Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Uninhibited (pt.2) "Battling Guilt"

“Even though I am guilty, it is not God’s desire for me to live a life based in guilt. It is His desire for me to know that He knew of my guilt before the crime was committed and that I am accepted regardless.”

I think a deeper issue than I know has been revealed to me. I never thought I walked around feeling guilty or like God was just itching to “smite” me. So, if someone were to ask me if my relationship with God is based on guilt, I could honestly say, “no.” I would then add a nice scripted rebuttal about how in a relationship it isn’t guilt based, but that He loves me and even though He cannot stand my sin, He loves me and something about how Christ’s sacrifice has washed away my sins and opened the avenue to this relationship I have with God.

And that is true…


I had to ask myself recently…why do I do the things I do?

What is my motivation?

Do I do the things I do because if I do not do them I feel as though I am just waiting for the hammer to drop and for God to cut me off? Take away my calling? Strip me of His grace? Recall his mercy? Strike me down? Pull back his presence? Or…do I do them because it is with a genuine heart that I feel led of God to my actions because I genuinely love Him?

To answer this…you can’t just give a knee jerk response. You have to really think about it.
I know… I am a recovering knee jerk responder.

I come to this conclusion, the thought that I am a part of a guilt driven relationship because if I do something wrong, I sin, respond poorly, or just something that isn’t considered to be very godly, I do feel guilt and therefore my confidence in who I am (my identity) in God is fractured. I feel as though I am in an un-recoverable relationship and am in a pit that separates me from the God I love. I feel almost too guilty to pray, when I do pray, my prayers are mostly just me repeatedly saying I am sorry and how I can’t believe He would love someone like me. 

There is nothing wrong with being repentant when you are wrong…

…but I began to wonder, do I question the limits of His love? 

Am I so inhibited that I don’t really believe that God’s love, His calling, His mercy, grace, and patience? 

I am sure that many of us struggle with this, but here is where it has taken a more “smack in the face” approach for me. If I lack confidence in the boundlessness of God’s love, my relationship with Him will only proceed in love as far as I can comprehend. It will be based in manmade limitations and not faith and as soon as I cross into a place where His love is not understandable by me, I enter into a guilt relationship with Him.

That is not His desire.

Does God really want me to feel so guilty about my wrong doings that I am paralyzed from a lack of confidence that I am not willing to listen to Him and step out in faith?

Of course not.

An uninhibited relationship with God is not based on what we understand of God, which is based on guilt. An uninhibited relationship with God is based on faith and the belief that He is all that He says He is, and His love (through Christ) is more powerful than our sin. It isn’t that we go out and sin for fun, but that when we do mess up…it doesn’t ruin anything, in fact God can use our unintentional floundering to glorify Himself.

He is THAT good.

When I think about the limitations I have placed on my life because I am not good enough, not mature enough, not developed enough, or whatever other reason I have dreamt up I am sorrowful. However, I believe God can even turn the limits that I have wrongfully placed on my life for his glory…and that is exciting.
What limits have you had on your life? As cliché as it sounds, God is actually big enough to glorify Himself beyond your limits. Don’t let this inhibit you…and I will work on growing to do the same. I am learning that there is a lot more growth to be done, but I know His Spirit is a great teacher.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Story: The Dawn of Creation (pt. 1)

(What you are about to read is a selection from a retreat I spoke about a year ago.  It is based on the discussion of our connection with God and comes from Genesis 1 &2.)

"God's great desire is to be intimately connected with us.  We struggle to believe that, but He has proven that point over and over again since the dawn of Creation.  It is easier for us to believe when we do something wrong that He is all angry, all frustrating, all sick and tired of our stupidity than to believe that He is still all loving."

The great God of all things has set into motion His grand creativity and in His all knowing mind has a blueprint to lay out the perfect plan for the perfect world and in this perfect world, a perfect companion. All else is laid out and now it is time to create man. Man will walk with God, talk with Him, they will be connected. Man and woman both will have this wonderful access to God. The plan is perfect, God stoops down to the earth that He created and begins to carve out in the dirt that He created a form. This form somehow looks like God, but is in no way God. 

God spoke all things into being, but this project is so unique, so special, so exciting for Him that He actually gets His hands dirty. The form is done, and now for the most electric part of Creation…God breathes life into man. With a single breath from God dirt turns into flesh, lungs take in air; blood begins to pump through the veins he designed throughout the body. The blood is pumped by a muscle in the middle of the body, while other muscles begin to awaken for the first time as man begins to stir from his sleep. Dirt becomes alive. 

We can imagine numerous things as we picture this story unfolding. What was the mind of Adam thinking as He awakened? This mind that just moments before was a large lump of dirt, what was the first thought when the synapses began to fire? Man, and shortly after woman, was formed and God had created and finished the perfect world. The beauty that He had designed in a mere six days was capped off with the crown jewel of His desire. Humans, chosen to be the love of the one and only God, created to be connected to God…forever.

The perfection of His creation is exhaustive to think about, the many intricate parts of the body that He designed and how they all work together. To say it is a work of art would be infinitely short selling the work that He did. God walked in the garden with the first couple, I can only image the conversations that happened there. The questions the first probing human minds shot towards the all knowing God, it must have been like a three year old at the zoo. 

While we can’t think in the same light as God, I wonder what He was thinking. Knowing that He knew the outcome, why would He go through the pain and frustration? Why would He put up with all the garbage that man would throw at Him? Why did He care so much? Why does He love us so? Much of the connection that He longs to have with us today can be understood (not completely) in better light when we see how enamored He was with Adam and Eve. God created a perfect place for them to live, and gave it to them for their own even. I think we often forget just how much God truly loved Adam and Eve; we focus on the fall and the wrongdoing, but before the fall the acts of love that God presented to them was beautiful.

 Over to you...

1. What sticks out to you? What are you thinking?
2. Do you see anything new that you hadn’t thought about when you read this story?
3. Try to explain God’s love for mankind from what you see in this story and in Genesis.
4. Does this make you think differently about how His love for you?
5. Explain God’s desire for connection as best you can

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Uninhibited (pt.1)

Honestly, this is just something I thought about the other day…and decided to try to put it down on “Paper.”  As I began to write it out, there is so much more to this, but here are some beginning thoughts and I would love to hear back from you…

What does it mean to be uninhibited?  

I often sit and think of my short comings.  I don’t know if it is normal to do so, but it is a practice that I have been blessed to do fairly continually.  I don’t beat myself up too badly, usually, but try to become more aware of when I make mistakes so that I can better handle them in the future.  This has helped me with my temper, impulse reactions, response to questions in meeting, and many other areas in life such as parenting, resolving issues at home, at work, and friendships.  

Here is what I have found about myself…

…I am very inhibited.

What I mean is, there are a lot of matters that I have experienced in my life that have caused me to react poorly in various situations.  I do not handle them properly or well at all, my experiences (or lack thereof) inhibit me from reacting well.  

I want to be uninhibited, that is have nothing that holds me back from handling situations properly, so I look for ways to continually improve myself to become the person that can move and act freely in just about any situation in life.  

Because of this, and my earnest desire to become uninhibited, I have grown.

I have found, not many Christians reside in an uninhibited place spiritually…

…and with all of my advancements, neither do I.

However, I am realizing a tenacious hunger to do so.

I relish in the thought of freedom to go or do whatever God calls someone to.  It seems glorious to be called to Africa or South America.  It seems amazing to me as I read Acts, that people just sold property and gave all the money to the church.  What is this peace that a person has when they lose someone so very close to them?  

When I see these situations unfold before me, it is unreal and yet I long to be like that.

I am blessed.

Maybe I am too blessed.

I am happily married to a beautiful woman who is blessed with a wonderful job.  We have been blessed with two beautiful children.  I have a job I enjoy.  I have a nice cozy little house, cars, a family that loves me to death, and a partridge in a pear tree.

So, why would I want anything else?

I have more than my parents ever did when I was growing up.  I have more than I ever dreamed possible when I was young.  

On top of it all, I am healthy.


…I am inhibited spiritually.

I am scared.

I fear losing any part of this wonderful life because it is so wonderful, even though God tells me that if He tells me to give it up…it will be worth it.  I fear that I will upset the perfect balance of this blessed life, even though I know (kind of) that He is the one who has given all of it to me.

I wonder, even if I was uninhibited in these matters…what would it be that inhibits me?

In its simplest form it is the raising of hands during music at church because of what people may think…or at least the uncomfortable feeling of wondering if I have pit stains.

It is not saying anything, even though maybe I should, because I may not be able to say it in a way that is just right.

It is not helping someone, because I have something else to do that “must” get done.

It is…so…many…things.

There is always something.  It isn’t anyone else's fault.  This is mine to carry.  

And…there is only One who can set me free from this.

So, maybe that is what I want for Christmas…

…to be uninhibited spiritually…to walk along that journey and know that I am growing in it, and to lead others to do the same? 

Monday, December 19, 2011


 (What you are about to read is a selection from a retreat I spoke at recently.  It is based on the discussion of our calling and comes from Matthew 11:1-18, Mark 1:16-20, Luke 5:1-11; 27-32, John 1:35-50.)

“When our core longing lines up with God’s calling we will see remarkable demonstration.”

                Sometimes we get off course slightly.  Sometimes we are completely off, so how do we know it is God that is calling us?  Sometimes, we just know…sometimes we need some guidance from others to help us think through all of this.  Once again, there is no exact formula. 

I often feel like God says to me in some capacity, “Follow Me” and I come back with an, “I want to…genuinely…but how?”

Here is what I have learned, and I am sure you will find it to be profound and life changing…
…ok, maybe not.

Do what you know to do out of an authentic and hungry (for what God wants for you) heart.  When you don’t know, pray…pray…and pray again, and then seek counsel with people who love and care for you and want what God wants for your life as well.  

I don’t recall a time when God said, “I would call you but you are too stupid, moron.”

And God has dealt with a lot of slow witted people.

Like this guy (me).

Stop!  Read: Matthew 16:21-28, Luke 9:46-50, Luke 22:54-62

          These are the disciples, and these are just a few of their mishaps.  These guys lived with Christ for three and a half years, and they messed up.  We have to remember that God is faithful, merciful, gracious, and loving.  The Scripture is chocked full of people who messed it up, but their heart was longing for God.

You will run into times of frustration, you will feel inept, you will feel overwhelmed…





We all do but in the messes His Spirit and grace will teach us and direct us and bring us back on the path that He wants us to be on.  That is, if our heart is where it should be.  If our heart is in the state of longing for more and wanting what He wants in our life, He will meet us there.  It may not be as frequently as we like or want, but when it does come…it is unexplainably amazing.

So here is what I want for you…Spirit, longing, hope, understanding, experience, love, being fused to God.  Our mess ups aren’t a way out, or an excuse, they are growing experiences that will press us further into our calling.  As we grow in our calling, as we grow in our ability to listen and hear God’s leading, we will become more and more in tune with His leading.  

Don’t give up!

Don’t get tired!

Keep on working!

If you falter, if you wander, if you stumble, He is able to draw you back and prepare you for His work.  This is the stipulation, while God can work through a heart that is not chasing after Him; He searches for the hearts that are hungry for what He has for them and speaks to them.  He speaks His instructions for a life that brings Him glory.  We work to provide an accepting environment in our heart to receive what He has for us.  

We serve a God who calls us relentlessly as He searches for those who will search for His leading relentlessly.

We can’t be mistake free…but can we be relentless?

Can we resolve ourselves to not give up?  To not give in to the chaos that surrounds us?

Do we believe…nothing…nothing…NOTHING is more precious than hearing from God?

Like Moses…

…like Samuel…

…like Isaiah…

…like Saul (Paul), Ananias, and the disciples?

You are called.

Do you believe that?

If not, I encourage you to just start saying to yourself, “I am called.”  Start believing.

If you do, we must understand there is nothing more important than hearing God’s voice.  We must search, we must long, we must listen.  That time with God has to be our priority.  This is the challenge before all of us.  Let this not just be a once a year retreat, but a change in lifestyle, and an opportunity for us to lean on each other as we all travel this path of living out God’s calling!

Join me in this journey, let’s see what God can do through a group of His willing children.

Right here and now!

“When our core longing lines up with God’s calling we will see remarkable demonstration.”

Monday, December 12, 2011

Pieces of the Calling Puzzle

(What you are about to read is a selection from a retreat I spoke at recently.  It is based on the discussion of our calling and comes from Acts 9.)

“God’s calling can be powerful &/or subtle, but when we do not understand we must believe that there is a greater plan than what we see.”

There is a strange phenomenon that takes place when I walk out of church on a bright, sunny Sunday after church.  The sun somehow becomes a thousand times brighter.  Ok, not really, but because I have been inside the church for quite some time, when I walk out, my eyes haven’t adjusted and the normal brightness of the sun seems so much brighter.  

Saul (later to be known as the apostle Paul) was a very religious man.  By some people’s standards, Saul was a very good person that had a longing desire to do God’s will.  We often paint him as a terrible man that killed Christians (and killing people isn’t a good thing, in case you were wondering), persecuted the church, and somehow hated God.  

Let me offer a bit of a different perspective.

Saul was raised a Jew (as was Christ) and wasn’t just good enough to be a teacher of the Law (as Christ was), but was top notch at it (as Christ was).  The place where he got mixed up is that, like many religious people of that time, he didn’t believe that Jesus was the Son of God.  He believed in God, trusted God’s word, and lived a life that reflected that…except he didn’t believe in Jesus being the Christ (coming King, God in the flesh, the Messiah).  


Well, everyone around him, his teachers, friends, leaders, and everyone around him told him that Jesus wasn’t the Christ.  So if he went to anyone to ask questions about Jesus, he was pointed in the direction that Jesus was not this coming Messiah. 

So, was he that bad?  Or was it more misguided?

I mean how easy is it to give everything up that you have been taught for your entire life?

Well, once again, when you experience God…things change.

Did Saul have a heart for God?

I mean he was a “bad guy” in the Bible, right?

In short, yes, Saul was a bad guy.  He followed closely the Law which has the commandment of “Thou shall not kill (murder).”  However, he was a subordinate (or kind of like an employee) and not the main leader (employer), so he was being led in the wrong direction.  

The point is, he was misguided and in a tough position to change what he believed.  He was told by all that he trusted that he was doing the right thing, encouraged to continue, and praised for the work he did.  

 There were loopholes made in God’s Word to allow for removing those who would oppose, so Saul was ok.


Whammo, undeniable proof that he is wrong and is pointed into a new, correct direction.  Everything is changed.  


The Light was so bright that it revealed the spiritual blindness, opened Saul’s spiritual eyes and yet left him physically blind.

Enter Ananias.

Now Ananias was on the other side of the coin, he did believe in Jesus.  God called Ananias in a vision (kind of like a dream) and take notice how Ananias answered.  Then God told Ananias to go find Saul and pray for him (Saul) to receive his sight.  

Saul…the murderer…killer of Christians…of which Ananias was.


God basically said, “I got this, just go.”

What did Ananias do?  He went.

Even though hesitant, Ananias realized that God was powerful enough to protect him especially since God called Him to go.  Even if God chose for Ananias to die at Saul’s hand, it was God’s will.  God had a plan, and Ananias wasn’t going to do anything but what God told Him to do.  

I wonder in what ways we dim the light of Christ because we are afraid or do not trust, or are even misguided?

Because Ananias went, he not only survived and Saul didn’t kill him, but he was a huge part in the conversion of Saul into the apostle Paul.  Paul, who was used to write two thirds of the New Testament, who was a major factor in building churches throughout the known world, who was a huge push in the spreading of the gospel, who was looked to as the human authority on all things of God…that Paul.

God’s calling changes a killer into THAT guy.

God’s calling allows people like Ananias to be a part of a much bigger plan.

God’s calling to us will accomplish His great plan and His will.

The great question is…is that what we want?

Do we want to be a part of His great plan?

God may not knock us off of a horse, He may not show us in a vision (although He might), but He will speak to us.  Are we ready, listening, and prepared to go where and when He leads us?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Surreal Sonship

"Son-ship [suhn-ship] noun-the state, fact, or relation of being a son."

Has something you have known to be true seemed so surreal until you have experienced it? 

An example…


You have worked hard, saved up for, paid for, and set up the entire schedule and while anticipation builds, it is almost like you can’t believe you are on vacation until about the second day you are at your destination.

Yesterday (Monday, I began working on this on Tuesday), my son was born.  It wasn’t a surprise.  My wife would tell you that.  My wife’s stomach grew with each passing month.  The tests showed him growing and even showed us fuzzy little black and white photos of him during his occupancy in Denise’s stomach.   

Even still, as the day approached, it was very surreal.  Coming to the hospital, I knew why we were going, but it didn’t seem quite real.  

I imagine it felt quite real to my wife before it did to me.

Now, I am sitting in our room, looking over and I see my wife sleeping with little Isaac on her chest and he is fast asleep as well all curled up and making cute little whimpers.  

It is becoming more and more real.

I so look forward to experiencing more of this reality.  As he grows and becomes who God has designed him to be, I can’t wait to continue to experience more and more of this reality.

I know this to be true because the same has been true of my sweet daughter.

However, I can’t help but think of the things I find myself feeling surreal about God.

My son is a reality.

Is God really a reality to me?

His love?



His promises?

I could go on and on, I think we all could.  I mean, to understand the spiritual aspects of reality…often times escapes me.  I know it is there, I know because I have seen the evidence just as I saw the evidence that Isaac was coming into our world...

…yet it is surreal.

It makes me wonder if the following is true…

…until we experience the reality of God, He will continue to reside in our surrealistic subconscious.  

If it is true, how many of us have experienced God?  To some degree?  A small amount?  Consistently?  Are we searching for that experience?

Or do we just experience nothing more than a surreal “sonship?”

If we walk through this life never experiencing the proverbial “birth” (or experience) of God, have we really experienced life?

If we walk through this life sporadically experiencing our Father, have we experienced life as He designed it…or is it kind of like a self-inflicted absentee father relationship?  Broken, unfulfilling, wandering, hurting, alone, miserable, and with no end in sight, we rely on what little we know not having the valuable guide we are designed to have.

What if He, and all that He is, became a reality to us.

Realize, only He can do that.  We do the searching, and He even helps with that, He does the connecting so that we may experience Him.

The story of Isaiah’s calling (Chapter 6) comes to mind. 

 Now THAT was an experience…

…or Saul (who turned into Paul (Acts 9).  

The Bible is chocked full of stories of people who had reality changing experiences, and those experiences birthed a whole new truth in their lives.

So today, is your experience with God a surreal “sonship?”  We all battle seasons of it.  Don’t wait, don’t hesitate, start searching.  Look for that experience, if you can’t or haven’t experience Him…ask Him to help and meet you.  Just do what you know to do, however little you know, He is big enough to meet you and your longing heart.   

I am going to spend time with my very real son. 

God bless you as I hope you (and I) experience our very real God.