Thursday, June 30, 2011


Reading through Ecclesiastes might not be the BEST thing right now, but I’m learning so much. The tone is so cynical and depressing. I’ve decided I’m going to read Philippians immediately after . . . much more joyful!

I’m taking comfort in the truth of chapter 3 today . . . seasons.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. (v.1-8)

No trial or experience we go through is in vain. Solomon will tell us we all will die anyway, so just enjoy life now before it’s too late. While there is truth in that, there is also purpose for what we go through on this earth-the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The joy and the struggle of following Christ is learning to rely on myself less, and Him more. Surrendering my plans, my preferences, my agenda, my will . . . for His.

Forsaking man made bread to feast on Bread of Life.

Letting go of me and clinging to Him.

So there are seasons when I’m far away and seasons I draw near.
Seasons I stray and seasons I am in step.
Seasons when things are constant and seasons of change.
Seasons of pain and seasons of praise.
Seasons of wandering and seasons of living in the promised land.

Whatever season I am in doesn’t change who God is. He is still a Good Shepherd who nurtures and disciplines His sheep. He is still a loving Father who has adopted me into His kingdom and lavished His grace upon me (Ephesians 1:7-8). He is still the God who wrote Romans 8:28 “and we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

So whether we’re in a season of pain or pleasure, a season we can see clearly or a season of fog, a season we are to move or a season we are to remain, we trust He is good (even when it doesn’t feel “good”) and know that He is sovereign, in control, and steady.

I can rest and be satisfied in that.

“Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” (John 4:34)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Burned Out or Moving On?

Goodness, what happened to Solomon? Wise man turned cynic? Is this even the same guy who prayed that wonderful, exemplary prayer in 1 Kings 8?

Solomon uses the phrase “All is Vanity” several times in Ecclesiastes 2.

He gives into every desire he’s ever had . . . all is vanity.
He denies himself nothing . . . all is vanity.
He lives in excess . . . all is vanity.
He gains wisdom . . . all is vanity.
He works hard . . . all is vanity.

He is saying whether we give into every desire or refrain, live in much or live in little; gain wisdom or folly; live in darkness or light; hardworking or lazy; we all die anyway . . . it’s all in vain! So we might as well eat and drink and find enjoyment in our toil (v.2:24) since it all ends the same for us.

Can you hear the despair? Cynicsm? Skepticism? Hopelessness? What has happened to Solomon? When we lose our focus on God, we lose our perseverance, our understanding, our hope. Even now as I’m writing this I am overwhelmed with the realization that is just might be what happened to me. Not in life, but in my career as a teacher.

I started out ready to change the world my first year of teaching. So excited and bright eyed, I was going to be a revolutionary. As each year went on, I lost focus and felt like I was sucked into believing that it was “just too hard”. I began thinking that no matter what I did as a teacher, “all was vanity”-it didn’t matter. The kids would learn what they’d learn, it really wasn’t up to me. Like Solomon said, to “gain wisdom is better than folly” (v.2:13), but it didn’t matter anyway.

Since opening up 1 Kings months ago, I have just been obsessed with Solomon’s life. He was the wisest man to ever live, his prayer in 1 Kings 8 was amazing, he wrote books in the Bible . . . and died a cynic far from God. He started out in a sprint for God and burned out.

I just keep thinking, I don’t want to end up like Solomon. I don’t want to start well and end bad.

I look at my career and realize that already kind of happened. I lost my vision. I lost my passion. I lost focus. I lost hope . . . and I turned cynical. And now I’m cleaning through all the things I’ve collected over my short 5 years as a teacher, remembering how I used to love it, how I was so innovative and hopeful. And I’m wondering . . . how did I get here? Is this really over? Did I really come this far? Has my heart really turned this much?

I also keep thinking about how David wanted to build the temple for God (2 Samuel 7-see blog Broken Dreams). He was so passionate and excited and the LORD told him “David you did well that it was in your heart . . . but it is not you who shall build the house . . . (2 Chronicles 6:8). David had the desire to serve the LORD in this way, but it was just that . . . his desire, not the LORD’s. Good that it was in his heart, it just wasn't his work to be done.

I keep thinking of these two men, these stories, and wondering which one am I?

I’m trying to discern if I am believing the lie “all is vanity” and turning cynical or if it was well that it was in my heart to be a teacher, it’s just not God’s plan for me.

Am I losing hope or moving on? Cynical or obedient? Ending terribly or pursuing the LORD? Solomon or David?

If am completely honest, I am relating far too much to Solomon’s life story right now. I see a man who started with so much potential and slowly over his life compromised and ended far from the LORD. I am shaking, trembling, praying that is NOT me.

Now leaving the classroom to work for the church, oh this is even more terrifying. It is not longer “just a job”, but literally, kingdom work. It’s not about career, but about eternity. I hope I finish well, in pursuit after Christ, with my mind set on heavenly things, running with endurance, eyes set on the prize.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Indulgence or Purpose

In Ecclesiastes 2, the author (presumably Solomon) says self indulgence is like chasing after wind.

And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11)

Remember Solomon? Son of David, wisest man that ever lived, King of Israel, built the temple, rich, 700 wives, 300 concubines . . . if anyone gave into desires of his own heart, experienced self indulgence to the fullest, wouldn’t it be Solomon? He gave into every desire and pleasure he had. I trust his experience and reflection here! He says there’s nothing to be gained from this type of life style, it’s all vanity.

So why do we believe that lie from that Carl’s Jr. commercial? “If it feels good, do it. If it tastes good, eat it.” Here Solomon is teaching us that these things leave us empty, chasing after wind.

So why do we believe the lie to “follow our hearts”, “do what makes you happy”, etc? WHY? Time after time we see in scripture, and quite honestly in our own lives, that these things never satisfy. They leave us feeling empty . . . yet we don’t learn. We keep chasing after wind.

I don’t want to live my life in vain . . . I want to live with purpose. I want to live and be satisfied, not indulge and be left empty.

Satisfied BY Him and IN Him alone.

“Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 8:35)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Know. Believe. Be Changed.

Recently, my sweet friend from life group reminded me of a verse out of Revelation that absolutely rocked my world a few years ago. It’s one of 3 verses that I remember encountering early in my Christian walk that absolutely changed me AND terrified me.

“I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16, NIV)

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21, ESV)

“You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.” (James 2:19, NLT

The reason these verses terrified me is because I had been professing my faith and yet nothing in my life showed what I believed. I confessed it, but didn’t live it. My spirit was willing, but my flesh was weak (Mark 14:38).

-What good is it to believe in Heaven and yet live like Hell?
-What good is it calling him LORD if we don’t live like He is LORD?
-What good is it to believe IN God, but not believe God?
-What good is knowledge about God if we don’t really know Him?
-What good is it to read, just to have read?
-What good is it to study the bible if we don’t let it change us?
-What good is our faith if it doesn’t lead us to obedience

These verses terrified me. These verses led me to truly examine my heart, my faith, my profession before the LORD almighty. I was utterly convicted of how I was living my life and led to repentance by a gracious Father who wanted more for my life. I was in torment of living one foot in the world, one foot out. I wanted Christ, but I also wanted all the other things the world had to offer. I was overwhelmed with guilt and hypocrisy every day. Until, finally I decided to surrender. By the grace of God I heard the words like the fishermen of long ago, a whisper in my heart that said “Follow Me.” I knew in those moments that my belief about God, my belief in God, moved to knowing God and His way of life.

My plea and my prayer for all of us, is that we would truly KNOW HIM, abide in Him, and pursue Him. That we would not hear those painful words in Matthew 7:23 “I never knew you, depart from me.” Let’s get back to “knowing Him” so that we can make Him known. Let’s proclaim Him through word and deed.

Let our faith be genuine, let our actions would match our words, let our love for Him overflow into love for others. He called us from darkness to light, let us live in the light!

Let us know, believe, and be changed.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wisdom from Twitter

I know, right? Who would’ve thought that a social networking site full of microblogs limited to 140 characters would do a work in my heart? Here are some of the quotes that I’ve read on twitter that have softened my heart, renewed my mind, and strengthened my faith.

One road leads home and a thousand roads lead into the wilderness.—C.S.Lewis

In Gethsemane the holiest of all petitioners prayed three times that a certain cup might pass from Him. It did not.—C.S.Lewis

God is committed to your happiness but only to your happiness in Him. There is no other kind, not now, not later. Only counterfeits.—Larry Crabb

We value healing for our pain more than pardon for our sin.—Larry Crabb

Do I want to know God, or do I just want a way out, a way to feel better?—Larry Crabb

What good is our busy religion if we have lost majesty, reverence, worship--an awareness of the divine?—AW Tozer

There are many of us who are willing to do great things for the Lord but few of us are willing to do little things.—Moody (Tweeted by The Gospel Coalition)

It is very tempting to work to convince yourself that what you really need is external change not internal rescue.—Paul David Tripp

Faith in God is more than believing the right things. It's living the right way because you believe the right things.—Paul David Tripp

Perhaps you will follow these wise men on Twitter and glean some wisdom too!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

High Places

Solomon--a King of Israel, author of books in the Bible, the son of the man who was after God’s own heart, the wisest man that ever lived—ended his life far from the LORD. He had built high places, disobeyed the LORD, offered and sacrificed to idols, and ended his life in a very different place than where he started.

Solomon . . . the wisest man that ever lived had blind spots.

If Solomon had areas in his life that were not completely submitted to the LORD, sins uncovered or hidden, I would be foolish to think there's not wretched sin in my heart and areas of my life I'm blind to.

I can see it so plainly in the text, but not in my own life. Why is that? Why is it so easy to point out the folly of others and not see my own? I can see so clearly the sins of another and yet be blind to my own.

So with fear and trembling, I ask . . . LORD help me to see the high places in my own life. I don’t want to end my life far from you, worshiping idols, because of the sin I was blind to in my own heart. Help me to surrender EVERY area of my heart, soul, and mind to you. Thank You for the help of Your Holy Spirit who makes the blind man see, the dead heart alive, the tired soul quickened. I desire to delight in You and You alone . . . let there be no other gods in my life besides You, the Holy One.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Lessons Learned from a King

I’ve been reading through 1 & 2 Kings and king after king you see “He did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD, he continued making sacrifices and offerings on the high places”, etc. Just utter disobedience and idolatry from the kings of Israel and Judah. So much so that Israel is exiled because of idolatry in 2 Kings 17.

Then, FINALLY Hezekiah enters the scene and sets Israel back on the right track. He destroys the high places, trusts the LORD, and keeps his commandments. Finally! A king who does right in the eyes of the LORD! Here are some lessons learned from 2 Kings 18 & 19 . . .

God blesses obedience.
And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David his father had done. He removed the high places and broke the pillars and cut down the Asherah . . . He trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel . . . For he held fast to the LORD. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the LORD commanded Moses. And the LORD was with him; wherever he went out, he prospered. (2 Kings 18:3-7)

Be discerning.
The lies of the enemy sound almost like the promises of God. Do not be lured away by greed, lust, materialism, etc. The enemy will do anything he can to keep you from trusting in the LORD.
“Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria: 'Make your peace with me . . . and come out to me. Then each one of you will eat of his own vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern, until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live, and not die. And do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you by saying, The LORD will deliver us. (2 Kings 18:28-35)

Enter His courts with praise, pray according to His will. Pray for the remnant, that God would preserve and protect His people, and lead them to repentance.
“And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD and said: "O LORD, the God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see; and hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God . . . now, O LORD our God, save us, please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O LORD, are God alone." (2 Kings 19:15-19)

Obey. Be Discerning. Pray

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Why Settle?

Why do we consent to abide all our days just outside the Holy of Holies and never enter at all to look upon God?"
-A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Why do we stay on the outside instead of entering in?

Why do we . . .
Stand on the edge when we can stand in awe?
Wander in the wilderness when we can dwell in the Promised Land?
Stay thirsty when we can be refreshed by Living Water?
Stay hungry when we can be satisfied by the Bread of Life?
Continue searching when we can be found in Him?
Live in captivity when we can walk in freedom?
Sew the seed of disobedience when we can bear the fruit of righteousness?
Settle for knowledge of man we can have the knowledge of The Holy?
Hold on when we can surrender?
Stay busy when we can abide?
Keep striving when we can rest in Him?
Settle for little when we can live in abundance?

We can feast, we can drink from His river of delights, we can enjoy abundance. Instead, we settle for things that never satisfy. We live exhausted, overwhelmed, beaten, and bruised. He redeems us so that we might live fulfilled, healed, and set free.

We can enjoy His presence, we can enter in. We don't have to settle any longer . . .

"Thou hast formed us for Thyself and our hearts are restless until we find rest in thee." -St.Augustine

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Adorned by Submission

Friday we’ll celebrate 5 Years of Holy Matrimony.
5 years of learning this . . .

"Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening."
(1 Peter 3:1-6)

Adorned by submission. Can you imagine that?

I am made more beautiful by submitting to my husband in obedience to the LORD. My beauty is enhanced by surrendering my will, my desires, and living with respect towards my husband, in pure conduct, with a gentle and quiet spirit.

Oh LORD let me be more beautiful in Your ways . . . let me be adorned by submission.