Friday, November 26, 2010


Jesus, the living Vine in heaven, and I, the living branch on earth! How little have I understood how great my need of-and also how perfect my claim to-all His fullness! How little understood, how great his need of-and also how perfect His claim to-my emptiness!

Jesus is indeed to me the True Vine, bearing me, nourishing me, supplying me, using me, and filling me to the full to make me bring forth fruit abundantly. Then I will not fear to say, ‘I am indeed a branch to Jesus, the True Vine, abiding in Him, resting on Him, waiting for Him, serving Him, and living only that through me He may show forth the riches of His grace and give His fruit to a perishing world.’

You are weak, but I am strong; you are poor, but I am rich. Only abide in Me; yield yourself wholly to My teaching and rule, simply trust My love, My grace, My promises. Only believe; I am wholly yours. I am the Vine, you are the branch. Abide in Me.

Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

Monday, November 22, 2010


I have been meditating on the Psalm 16:11 this week, and because of that, the word presence has been on my mind and my heart. I was also reading through 2 Thessalonians and this caught my eye “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:9)

I remember staying home once last year because I was sick. I watched TV all day . . . didn’t read, didn’t pray, and didn’t listen to worship music. I stayed on the couch all day watching TV. I can remember late at night feeling this very lonely, dark feeling. I had filled my day with reruns, nothing of substance, and it felt like I was so distant from God. It was a weird, eerie feeling. It was so empty, so lonely, felt like I had nothing inside. I soon realized that the LORD was showing me what it is like to go through a day without Him, without being in His presence. It was reminder of what it used to feel like before I knew Him, a feeling of distance, of what it’s like to be “away” from God.

This word has just got me thinking . . . if eternal destruction is away from the presence of the LORD, than eternal life is being in His presence! While we think so often of Heaven as things (streets of gold, no more pain, etc.), the real joy of eternal life is to be in His presence. I was so refreshed in the LORD yesterday in my time of prayer, realizing again how true Psalm 16:11 is, in His presence there is fullness of joy. I love what Tim Keller says in "The Reason for God" We were made to center our lives upon him, to make the purpose and passion of our lives knowing, serving, delighting, and resembling him.” Let’s start our eternal life now by dwelling in His presence.

“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” (John 17:3)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Fullness of Joy

"You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever." (Psalm 16:11)

I’m in a place right now where I am asking God, not just if there’s more He wants me to be doing, but something else. Is there something else I am supposed to be doing with my life? Is this discomfort and discouragement because I am not supposed to be on this road? Is this my plan or your plan? OR is this discouragement and feeling of weakness because you want me to endure and rely on you? Your word tells me that “we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-4). Are you producing character in me? Am to obey and endure? OR am I in a place you never intended me to be?

I don’t know . . . but I could not take my eyes off this verse tonight in my time of prayer with the LORD. In Your presence is fullness of joy.

I know why I am struggling with my circumstances; it is not the place the LORD intends me to find joy. He intends me to find joy in His presence. He wants me to delight in Him. The path of life is not this job or that job, this place or that place, this road or that road, etc. The path of life is Him. He is the Way, the Truth, the Life. It’s loving, abiding in, delighting in, obeying, and worshiping Him. That is the only place I will find fullness of joy.

At the end of my prayer time, I still have no idea if I am to endure or move on. I don’t know if this is my plan or His. But I know that the place He wants me to be most, is in His presence . . . that I may have fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore.

“But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” (Philippians 3:8)

“Cease striving and know that I am God . . .” (Psalm 46:10)

Saturday, November 13, 2010


I am reading “The Reason for God” by Tim Keller. In this book, he answers the most common questions people have in regards to Christianity: “How could a good God allow suffering”, “How can a loving God send people to Hell”, “Hasn’t science disproved Christianity”, etc. I had many questions like this myself before becoming a Christian. I couldn’t understand why people kept telling me about Jesus and His death on the cross, I remember thinking it had nothing to do with me because it happened so long ago! I also remember feeling so offended hearing people talk about “sin” or “being a sinner”. I was a good person, with a kind heart, how dare you say that about me!

In this book, Tim Keller says that “most people think of sin primarily as 'breaking divine rules’”. He says “Sin is the despairing refusal to find your deepest identity in your relationship and service to God. Sin is seeking to become oneself, to get an identity apart from him . . . It is seeking to establish a sense of self by making something else more central to your significance, purpose, and happiness than your relationship to God.” (p.162)

Sin is not just “doing bad things”. It is finding your significance and identity in anything apart from God. If I find my significance (meaning) in being a good teacher, what happens when my kids don’t do well on the test? If my identity is found in being a good parent, what happens if one of my kids strays? If it’s in my successful career, what happens if I lose my job? If it’s being the funny one at the party, what happens if no one laughs at my jokes? If my identity is in my beauty, what happens when I age??? Yikes!

The reality is if we’re not finding our significance in Christ, we’re finding it in something else. Tim Keller calls these our “god-substitutes”. They can be your job, family, political affiliation, even your charity work. We’re all finding our significance and identity in something. He also says “A life not centered on God leads to emptiness.” (p.166)

You’ve heard it said there is a god-shaped hole inside all of us. St. Augustine said “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee!” (p.165) I think that’s why Jesus starts his Sermon on the Mount with “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 5:3) Until we come to the end of ourselves (poor in spirit), saying we want God and His way of life, we are just filling our life with “god-substitutes”. We are finding our significance in places that will never make us feel significant. We are seeking identity in places that will never show us our purpose.

I realize that Jesus has paid my debt and redeemed me. However, when I peel away what is on the surface, I realize that at times I am finding my significance in other things. I am not fully “resting” in who I am in Christ. If my identity and significance does come from my job, my ministry, my marriage, friendships, etc., what would happen if all of these things were stripped away? Is my identity solely found in God? Do I fully understand my significance in Christ?

In the book “Respectable Sins” Jerry Bridges reminds us not only to preach the gospel to others, but to also preach it to ourselves daily! The more and more I understand sin (Genesis 3), the more I understand and am thankful for John 3:16. I’m praying that I find my significance in Him, the only One who can satisfy!

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?” (Isaiah 55:1-2)

“Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

“Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Scripture 18

Sow Bountifully
"The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." (2 Corinthians 9:6)

I recently went through the World Vision Aids Experience where a child from Kenya walked me through his life as an AIDS orphan. Shortly after, I read the book “The Hole in Our Gospel” by Richard Stearns (the president of World Vision) and I have been burdened for those suffering around the world from poverty, hunger, disease, etc. I have been evaluating and reflecting on how I live my life and how I can be living differently. These are some of the questions that have been on my mind and stirring in my heart ever since my World Vision encounter:

How am I showing love to people?

What kind of legacy am I leaving on this earth?

How am I helping those in need? How do I contribute to the needs of others?

Am I storing up treasures in heaven or am I filling my closets here on earth?

If I moved out of this neighborhood, would my neighbors notice? If I left my job, would my coworkers notice? If I left this world, would people notice?

Does God want me to go and serve? Give and Pray? All of the above?

How can I be a better steward of my time, talents, and treasures?

These questions have not been easy to answer and I’m not asking them to beat myself up. I have just been truly challenged and convicted when I learned that if you make more than $55,000 a year, you’re richer than 99% of the world. Or that as many as 5 million people die every year of water related illnesses, I realize that I can do much more than I’m doing to help. I realize that each and every person on earth is created in God’s image, has value and worth, and it’s tragic to think they die from things that can be easily prevented through clean water, medicine, and even education.

Looking at the “needs” of others can be overwhelming, and I’m thankful that through this process, the LORD has reminded me not to look at the needs of others, but to look at Him. It’s not my responsibility to fix the world’s problems, but it is my responsibility to obey Him. It’s my responsibility to help in some way. So I’ve asked “LORD what do you want me to do? How do you want me to live differently?”

I pray that I would leave a legacy of love and compassion, that I would put the needs of others first, that I would live with and eternal perspective, truly desiring in my heart to “Let your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”

Live intentionally. Give generously. Pray fervently. Obey willingly. Love wholeheartedly. Sow bountifully.