Friday, February 28, 2014

Day 24 | I Want to Be Like Jesus

“Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ”    1 Corinthians 11:1

     This amazing sentence has invaded my thoughts countless times over the past several years. What is the Apostle Paul saying here? With boldness he proclaims, “If you want to know what Jesus looks like, if you want to know how He acted, then watch my life.  Live like I do.”

     What confidence to make such a statement! It’s audacious, yes, but far from arrogant. Elsewhere in his letters, Paul repeatedly acknowledges his imperfections (i.e. Romans 7) and his gratefulness for being rescued. But, he recognizes the magnificent change in his life and invites the Church to take a deeper look at the difference Jesus makes.
 I hear the challenge. Do you? Desire stirs deep within my soul; a desire to put my Redeemer on display. Because of the immense love of His Majesty, we have been given life! We have been given positions in the royal family! With these positions, though, comes responsibility. As heirs and therefore representatives of the King of Kings, we are called to make Him shine. Is it my heart’s deepest desire to look, act, sound and love just like my Redeemer?   Like Paul, I know my heart is sinful. I know I don’t always do what I should and I often say or do what I shouldn’t. But I pray that the beautifying work of God will allow me to say at some point in my life, “Go ahead and copy my lifestyle. Act the way I act, speak the way I speak, love the way I love. Go ahead…for I live like one who has been pardoned and I mirror the One who has restored my soul. Go ahead and follow my example because I have followed the example of Christ.”

I Want to Be Like Jesus
By Thomas O. Chisholm

I have one deep, supreme desire,
that I may be like Jesus.
To this I fervently aspire,
that I may be like Jesus.
I want my heart His throne to be,
so that a watching world may see
His likeness shining forth in me.
I want to be like Jesus.
Oh Jesus, I am so thankful that You have eyes that see beyond my sin. Thank You for being the Potter who never fails to mold and shape this imperfect vessel. You are my Savior and my King. You deserve my utmost. It is truly my longing and desire to be as much like You as possible. Please, Father, guard my heart and my actions. May I be able to say with humble boldness, ‘look at me if you want to see Jesus’.  You deserve the highest form of praise…imitation. I love You. Amen.

-Sarah Bennor

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Day 23 | What Are We Doing?

For the past seven years, Janice and I have had at least one of our three kids living in the college town of Marquette, Michigan. Some people think we’re crazy to do this, but every winter we take a trip north to the frozen tundra of the Upper Peninsula. Of course, weather is always a concern when you head north in the winter months.

Of all the winter trips we’ve made to Marquette, this last weekend was the most weather adventurous. We had chosen to go that particular weekend because of our complicated work schedules.  If we didn’t go this weekend, the chances of us going at all this winter we’re pretty nil. We have a son in college and a daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter living in Marquette, so we were highly motivated to get there. But, as the trip approached, questions began to arise to whether this journey would be wise. Winter thunderstorms, heavy rains, followed by a cold snap promised icy roads. We even heard rumors of pending blizzard conditions in parts of the UP. I wasn’t sure this would be a safe trip to make.

We got up Friday morning, packed the car, and then took a quick look at the weather radar of Michigan to see what we’d be driving into. The radar seemed to show snow from Grand Rapids to Big Rapids then clear the rest of the way.  Winds were high but the Mackinaw Bridge was still open. We jumped in the car resolved to just patiently push through any of the barriers Michigan weather would put in our path.

We didn’t get far out of Grand Rapids before I started using this phrase, “What are we doing?”  This would be a question I would ask the entire trip. Ice covered roads, car-moving wind gusts, almost whiteout situations, and aggressive semi-trucks greeted the entire way to the Mackinaw Bridge. All this gave me reason to say, “What are we doing?”  With a heart of a mom wanting to see her kids, Janice would gently and optimistically respond, “It will all work out.”  

As we approached the Big Mac Bridge, one of my fears for the day became reality as an electronic sign read, “Bridge closed. Exit highway.” For eight hours, the bridge would be closed and thousands of people made the sleepy winter town of Mackinaw City a rest area for the day.  “What are we doing?” turned to “What do we do?”  Over those eight hours, I serious contemplated heading south to return home.  But, there was this look in my wife’s eye that said, “Please don’t let all this stop me from seeing my kids and grandbaby!”

We stuck it out and eventually the bridge opened and our journey continued.  Conditions on the bridge and roads north were horrible so we decided to spend the night at my sister’s house an hour away.  It had been a long day and we all needed some peace and rest.  Saturday would be a better day and our journey across the UP would be much less eventful.  As we neared Marquette, my chronic question got answered. I recalled all the occasions that I asked, “What are we doing?” Janice simply said, “It’s love. We do these things because we love our kids and we miss them so much that we’d almost anything to spend time with them.”  From the back seat, my daughter added, “Or, it’s dogged stubbornness.” 

Dogged, stubborn love motivated a family to push through deadly road conditions and brutal delays to be together.  If that’s true of an earthly mom and dad, how much more is this true of our Heavenly Father?  What would the dogged stubborn love of God our Father endure to be with his kids?  Check out these verses.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5.8

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3.16

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21.3-4

I wonder if God ever asked in his pursuit of us, “What am I doing?” If he did, then his dogged, stubborn love endured every possible barrier to be with us.

-Phil Niekerk 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Day 22 | Your Room
 As a child growing up in a Christian home, I knew that I needed to have a “relationship with Jesus Christ”.   I was told that God’s desire for me was not to pursue religion but a relationship with Him.  And I was given a list of things to do to ensure that I would follow –  

ü  read my Bible every day

ü  pray

ü  attend church

ü  put money in the offering plate, etc . . .

 I understood in an intellectual way but my heart struggled to comprehend how I actually could have this relationship with an unseen God. 

And so, I struggled. It was a vicious cycle of knowing what to do, trying and failing and then the overwhelming guilt . . . round and round it went.

Why was trying to have an intimate relationship with God so hard?  I wanted it?  Why couldn't I experience it? 

One day I was crying out to God, telling Him how I longed for so much more in my marriage.  I desired my husband to WANT to spend time with me, not because he HAD to but because he WANTED to.  I longed for him to WANT to be with me.   

 Then it happened. . .  

I felt God whisper to me, "That's how I want you to love me!"  

What?!  Could this be what I'd been missing all these years?

It suddenly dawned on me that God didn't want me to spend time with Him because I HAD to; He wanted me to WANT to spend time with Him.  It wasn’t a checklist.  It was a relationship!   

God had the same longing and desire for my relationship with Him, as I had for my husband! 

If my husband saw our relationship solely as a list of duties: 

ü  Took out the trash.

ü  Played with the kids

ü  Kissed my wife

ü  Fixed the leaking faucet

I’m sure you can imagine what my response would be  . . .  And yet, that’s how I viewed my relationship with God.

If I give everything I have to the poor and even sacrifice my body, I could boast about it; but if I don’t love others, I have gained nothing.  1Corinthians 13.3 (NLT)
Why would God feel any differently about the checklist I had for Him?  These weren’t given to me so I could check them off and feel good about myself.  They were given to develop my love for God and grow my relationship with Him and absent of love and relationship they become only things to boast about, nothing more. 

John Ortberg, in his book God is Closer than You Think tells the story of his grandmother who had six children.  When asked which of her six children she loved the most . . .  "She said love for your children doesn't work that way.  She said it's as if when each child is born, another room gets added to your heart.  And no one else occupies that room.  It doesn't have to be bigger or better than any other room.   It's just theirs." 

"'In my Father's house are many rooms,' Jesus said.  One of them was added on when you became his child.  That one is yours, and no one else can ever occupy it.  It is secret to you and Him.  It's your own Sistine chapel.  It is furnished by every moment of intimacy and wonder and togetherness shared by you and your Father. "   (John Ortberg)

If you have struggled, like me, in having an intimate relationship with God, I encourage you to set aside the checklist and just BE with Him.  He is waiting, inviting you to grab hold of this incredible relationship. He has a room prepared just for you - won't you meet Him there today?

Lord, put within us a burning to desire to WANT to be with You, not because we know we should but because we simply desire You.  May we be satisfied with nothing less.  Amen.

-Kristi Huseby

Broken and Redeemed Blog

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Day 21 | I Sure Do Love You, Buddy
“I sure do love you Buddy.”
It’s been almost 4 years since my dad died.  Those words, in his soft voice, still ring in my head.  He was a man’s man.  Hands the size of a catcher’s mitt, but a heart to match.  My dad was the blessed father of 5 daughters before I came along, and throughout my upbringing, he was constantly pulling me out from among all of that girlie presence and heading to the woods, the jobsite, or work outdoors on the farm I grew up on. 

From the time I was 8, I would spend every weekend and break from school riding around with him in his pickup, going from jobsite to jobsite, checking in on his workers, often being assigned menial tasks while he did “important stuff”.  I don’t know how many hours I spent sprawled out in the passenger seat asleep in that truck.  But what I do remember, and can still feel it in my chest, is that huge catcher’s mitt playfully backhanding me, jolting me awake, only so he could say, “I sure do love you Buddy.”

I don’t remember thinking it was very cool then.

But I do now.

You see, my dad desired me.  He had an affection for me that was unshakeable.  Even as I grew older and became a “way smarter than my dad” teenager, with all the attitude that comes with it, I never doubted his deep fondness of me.

It’s that influence that has caused me to see and to hear the Father’s words throughout the Bible, “I sure do love you Buddy.”  There is a playful, almost wasteful it seems, way that God just lavishes his love on us.  It’s almost as if, Love is who he is, and there is a boundless, endless supply of it, so he can afford to be wasteful with it.  Even when we spurn it, even when we don’t understand it, or even when we don’t deserve it.  God’s love for you and me is unlike anything we could imagine.  He’s as unpredictable in his expression of it towards us as a playful backhand to the chest while we’re asleep.

I don’t know what your experience is with the love of your dad, but borrow mine if you need to, and consider that God, our Father, and Jesus, his son, is deeply fond of you, he deeply desires you, and he simply wants to be with you…wasting time together.  Whether we realize it or not, His love for us caused him to do the craziest thing that has ever been done in the history of man.  He willingly gave up his life, when mine was required.  He did it for me, even before I knew how to love him back.  He initiated, not me. 

Now as I consider the image of love, hanging on a tree, dying in my place, just before he breathes his last, I can hear his voice weakly saying, “I sure do love you buddy.”

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.  1 John 3.1,16
God, what is this love?  It’s too great for my mortal mind.  It’s too painful, too costly, too undeserved for me to accept without somehow earning.  Yet it’s who you are.  I want it, and I want you.  Thank you for the incredible risky expression of your love for me.  I love you too, Father.
And I love you too Dad.
-Doug Bishop

Monday, February 24, 2014

Day 20 | God In Us
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”  Romans 8:26

I think this verse is extremely pertinent on our journey for “desire”. It first calls us to admit that we could possibly have weakness… that there could be things we need to ask of God for. There might be things that we can’t accomplish on our own. We actually might not always have the ability within ourselves to even ask God for the things he wants us to ask for. 

At first this verse left me feeling like the two year old that is fighting bedtime with tears and tantrum, while the ever knowing parent gently whispers, “trust me… sleep right now is what you need most, that’s why I'm making you stay in bed ‘til you fall asleep”. That feeling of being vulnerable and to be honest, ignorant. 

But in our weakness we have a helper, someone that we can trust. 

And perhaps even when we fumble and ramble about, praying in tears and tantrum, asking for things we think we need or want, God in us cries out to Himself asking for us what we cannot ask for ourselves.

God’s love in response to our weakness is a sign that prayer is accomplishing in us the best things for us… no matter what.

-Matt Stowell

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Day 19 | Absurd Love

One look at this Jamaican sunset and the first thing that comes to my mind is the amazing beauty of our God and the mighty power of his creative hand. 

“Now no one can look at the sun,

bright as it is in the skies

after the wind has swept them clean.

Out of the north he comes in golden splendor;

God comes in awesome majesty.

The Almighty is beyond our reach and exalted in power…”

Job 37:21-23a

What a marvel is our God! How can anyone deny his terrific strength? It puzzles me to think that some hold the opinion that Jesus was weak when he allowed himself to be killed by human hands, that he was small and unable to save himself, that he was a fool to die for fools. What an absurd idiocy!

In truth, it required more strength than any other person could have mustered for Jesus to give as he gave and allow himself to be plunged to Hell on behalf of fools who could not endure Hell themselves.

 He IS the Almighty who is beyond our reach. He is exalted to a place we cannot even imagine. He is so “other” than us that we have no hope of even knowing how to begin to make our way to him.

So, he made a way to us.

And why? WHY?

And this is the unexplainable absurdity of all…

Because he desires my company more than he desires his comfort. Because he burns with a holy love that I will never truly understand. Because he WANTS me.  

“I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me.”

Song of Solomon 7:10

Jesus, thank you for doing the hard work of making a way to me. I admit I will never really understand what you gave up to come to me and what it cost you to purchase me. It is way more than I am worth. Help me absorb the truth that you did this crazy thing all from love; that your desire for me drove you to drastic measures. Because of this, I am all yours. Amen.

-Sonia Sundberg

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Day 18 | Most Prized Possession

Two weeks ago I had the privilege of spending some precious moments with a man in our congregation who was dying. His name was Chris and he has passed away since that conversation. However, there is something he said during our time that has continued to echo in my heart. He mentioned his favorite Bible verse,
 For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.
                                      Philippians 1.21 [NIV]
The first half of that verse I get, it’s the second part that messes with me. To die is gain, really? As I laid awake that night thinking about Chris’s words I wondered how is it possible to really believe that death is gain. Who really believes that? As I mused on Chris’s words and let them mess with me, I thought about who wrote those words and where he was when he wrote them. The Apostle Paul penned those words in a prison cell. Paul was thrown in prison for preaching the gospel. However, Paul suffered so well that God used his time in prison to advance the Jesus Movement into the outlying community where he was imprisoned!

And then I thought of Chris and I thought of his prison called cancer. And then I thought of his favorite verse, For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. He could have been bitter, angry, or abandoned his love for God. He chose none of those options. Chris understood that his suffering served to advance the gospel. Chris believed that God was using his life and sufferings to draw others to Jesus. Chris would tell you that cancer sucks, but if that’s how God wanted to use him, so be it.

In my final conversation with Chris he did not mention the kind of car he drove, his job title, or the size of his bank account, his house, the vacations he took, or any of his possessions. And, he never asked me to mention any of those at his funeral. He pleaded with me to tell the story. The story of how God reached out to us in spite of our rebellion. How God loves us so much that he redeemed us. Chris’s very last desire was that the real story of Jesus Christ, Heaven, and eternal relationship with God be communicated at his funeral. That was what mattered most in his life and in his last moments on earth. Chris was twenty-nine, married, and the father of a nine month old little girl. Chris loved life and his most prized possession was his relationship with Jesus. And, he wanted me to make sure that everyone knew that.
-Dan Wright

Friday, February 21, 2014

Day 17 | Jealous
How He Loves
By John Mark McMillian
He is jealous for me,

Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,

Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.

When all of a sudden,

I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,

         And I realize just how beautiful You are,

        And how great Your affections are for me.
Early in their journey to the Promised Land, God stops Moses and the Israelites so he can provide instructions on living and worship.  He calls Moses up on a mountain and inscribes ten covenant rules on two tablets of stone.  While Moses is on the mountain, the people become impatient for his return and call on Moses’ brother, Aaron, to make an artificial god out of gold.
When God sees his people worshipping the golden idol and calling it “god,” he tells Moses, “I have seen how stubborn and rebellious these people are.  Now leave me alone so my fierce anger can blaze against them, and I will destroy them.”  (Exodus 32.9-10)
That seems a little harsh.
Where does that kind of fury come from?  Why would God’s anger be so enraged that he would want to destroy his people?
God’s anger is great because his love his great.
He is the jealous Lover who goes into a rage when he finds out his beloved is having an affair.
You must worship no other gods, for the Lord, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you. (Exodus 34.14)
Whenever we direct our worship towards anything other than God, we become the disenchanted lover entangled in an affair outside of the relationship we were made for.
And God’s fierce anger is aroused.  His anger is fierce because his love is fierce.  And somebody has to pay.
When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners.  Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good.  But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.  (Romans 5.6-8)
Father, today I realize how often I completely miss the degree to which my sins offend and anger you.  I fail to understand that your love for me is so passionate that any act of disobedience raises an equal passion of rage.   In my small mind I far too easily rationalize my offenses and don’t fully realize the penalty for sin is death.  God, thank you for your great love and not destroying me when I disobey.  Jesus, thank you for paying the price I could not pay.  Holy Spirit, empower me to begin to know, understand and embrace this passionate love.  Amen.
-Kevin Baker

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Day 16 | He Speaks, I Respond

We, in our humanness, know that we are supposed to love God, and to love those around us and sometimes feel shame for not feeling like we love Him enough, so we try to stir up love for our Father within our hearts.  Yet, we don’t have the strength for this on our own.   

On days I am spent, and worn and I just feel ugly inside and unlovable I attempt to make myself feel like I perceive a good Christian “ought” to feel… joyful, content, loving…but the more I try to make myself feel as I think I should feel, the more frustrated I am with myself for feeling what I am actually feeling. 

Romans 5:5   Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.  

God knows we can’t love on our own.  He has given us Himself, He has poured His love into our very soul!  We can cling to that hope, and not be shamed for our inability to love on our own.  How amazing is that!  He gives us His love so that we can love Him!  And in loving Him, we can love others and even ourselves.  Even when we are worn out, tired or suffering, and we just don’t think we can love, He gives us hope, and He pours out His love into our weak beings. 

He Speaks, I Respond
 You are beautiful….
But do You see what I do?
 You are my child…
But my heart is cold, and I am not worthy.
Come, let Me cover you with my blanket of grace
I am so weak.
Rest your head against my scarred ribcage…
I crawl to You, and collapse in Your arms.
I love you, my dear one.
In wonder, I accept Your love.

Father, It amazes me that You created us to need You to even be able to love You.  Without You, we have no hope, we have no love.  Help us to let go of trying to love You on our own, it is not how you designed us.  May we let go of trying to love and to attempt to feel a certain way that we think we ought to feel.  Instead may we completely open up our souls to you, and open our hearts for You to pour into us.  In You we can love, love You, love others, love ourselves.  Amazing God.  In Jesus, Amen.

-Sue Parrott

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Day 15 | Going All In

He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree. Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy…

We’ve probably all heard these opening words from the song “How He Loves” by Christian songwriter John Mark McMillan, but how much have we really thought about what it means that God is jealous?
Well, let’s start here… What does it mean for us to be jealous? I know for me it can take on different forms. Perhaps listening to an incredible guitarist knowing that I can never afford the guitar he’s playing. Or maybe climbing into a rusty old car as the neighbor kid pulls out of the garage in a brand new mustang. Or perhaps for you it’s the look in your child’s eyes as they sit at a friend’s birthday party. That longing and desirous look as their friend opens all of the gifts that they wish they had. I know in my own experience that jealousy often feels like a deep hunger for something, perhaps mixed with frustration or even anger that this something is not mine.
Hmmm… perhaps it’s the same with God? Perhaps God has a deep hunger for a people who were once His, who have now strayed away. A longing bordering on desperation to have what is not His.
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for jealous is kannaw, which means demanding exclusive service. Our God is an “all-in” kind of God. He deeply desires His people, but He doesn’t want a piece of their lives, He wants all of their lives desperately. That is what it means for God to be jealous. He demands that His people be completely sold out for Him, just as He is completely sold out for those He created.

 You might be thinking…what does it look like for God to be sold out for His people? It looks like a father willingly sending his only son to die so that a reckless and lost people can return back to him. Wow. God deeply wants us to be “all-in.” He wants us to serve Him and Him alone, and He sent His only son to die so that we could return back to Him in this way. God is so jealous for us, He wants us so bad that He created a way for us to return to Him. Now through Jesus, we can return to the Father and sell ourselves out for the Gospel of Christ. That is jealousy. That is desire.
Father, thank you for your love. Thank you for creating a way for a broken and sinful people to return to you. Thank you for your deep desperation and jealousy for your people. We pray that you will guide us when we fall short and remind us of how you love us. We give you all the praise and glory, now and forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

-Jake Houf


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Day 14 | For Christ Alone

 Such a large crowd of witnesses is all around us! So we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially the sin that just won’t let go. And we must be determined to run the race that is ahead of us. We must keep our eyes on Jesus, who leads us and makes our faith complete. He endured the shame of being nailed to a cross, because he knew that later on he would be glad he did. Now he is seated at the right side of God’s throne!”  Hebrews 12:1b-2 (Contemporary English Version)

As we have been working our way through the “Satisfied” series, the words “for Christ Alone” continue to surface in my heart. We are blessed beyond much of the world’s wildest imaginations. In relation to our possessions and as food for thought, if this was truly the desire of our hearts, what would this phrase look like?

Is it really enough to look through our stores of stuff, find a few things we can definitely live without and drop them off at Goodwill without a second thought? Do we too easily justify surrounding ourselves with mountains of things by saying that we have been blessed?

What would happen if every time I looked at one of my things, I asked myself this question- ‘If my deepest desire is for Christ Alone, why do I have this thing?

 Do I keep these extra plates because I use them to serve meals to friends or lonely college students? Do I continue to have three cars because one is constantly available for those without one? Do I cut coupons and buy excess, not so I can store more toothpaste than I will ever use in a lifetime but because I give it to local shelter or women’s center?

If my desire is to live, to love, to give, to exist “for Christ alone” is there anything I need to change?

Only One Life

~Avis B. Christiansen~

“Only one life to offer –Jesus, my Lord and King;

Only one tongue to praise Thee and of Thy mercy sing (forever);

Only one heart’s devotion- Savior, O may it be consecrated alone to Thy matchless glory,

Yielded, fully to Thee.


Oh Jesus, Lover of my soul, I want my life to be completely Yours. Please forgive me when my eyes stray and become fixed on “things” and not on You. Replace our hunger for earthly things with a desperate longing for what is eternal. Help us to have hearts that are ever searching for ways to bring light into the darkness. Help us not to fear, but to be courageous. Give our legs renewed strength as we run this race. We want to reflect You well.  Amen.

-Sarah Bennor

Monday, February 17, 2014

Day 13 | I Hate Falling

There was a time in my life where playing basketball was one my favorite recreational things to do but my love for hoops changed when I hit my 40s. A little extra weight. A slower step and a lower jump.  Faster and stronger young guys to defend. Nagging injuries that wouldn’t heal fast enough. The game got quicker and I got slower. It became less fun and more painful, so I hung up my basketball shoes. But this winter, a buddy convinced me to come out of retirement. Something in me missed playing ball plus my doctor said I needed more cardio exercise in my life. “Why not?” I asked myself. “How bad could it be?”

Week one was tough. My lungs were on fire, my jump shot was flat, and I found some muscles the next day that I forgot I had. But, I survived!  So, I went back the next week. Week two was much better.  I found some rhythm and a bit more endurance. I hit some shots and felt that I held my own on the court even with all the younger guys there. So, I went back the next week. I should have quit while I was ahead and healthy because on week three, I got matched up against a 20-something dude half my age. This is how it all went down. 

My entire night lasted less than 90 seconds. My team started with the ball, a shot was quickly taken and the kid I was to guard got the rebound and turned quickly down the court to lead a fast break. I was ready for him… so I thought.  My heart, my head and my body didn’t have same plan.  My heart said, “Stop him!”  My mind said, “You better get going or he’s gonna blow by you.”  My body said, “_________________.”  Yeah… I got nothing.  Instead my feet got tangled up, I began to stumble and in an awkward moment of complete lack of physical control, I simply fell backward landing squarely on my gluteus maximus. The impact radiated through my lower vertebrae as I felt each bone bang against the other. There I lay, done for the night.

A few weeks later, I shared this story in a coffee shop with a young guy I’m mentoring.  He’s a good guy who’s working through the long process of recovering from the consequences of some bad choices he made. As we talked, we came to the conclusion that we were both healing from clumsy, awkward, and painful falls. My butt and lower back were still hurting. His heart and soul were hurting even more. He laughed at my Old Man basketball fall and I tried to encourage him in his quest to rebuild from his Young Man fall. We both agreed that falling just stinks. 

But then he showed me some verses that stood out to him in our recent Bible study from 2 Peter 1. There were two phrases that jumped out to him. Here they are.

These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires… 2 Peter 1.4 NLT

 Do these things, and you will never fall away (“stumble” in the NIV).  2 Peter 1.10 NLT

These phrases are six verses apart. So what’s in between these phrases? What does the divine nature look like? Is a stumble-free life really possible? Grab your Bible today and read through 2 Peter 1 and check this out. There are some incredible promises here. Peter declares that the divine nature is composed of the growing virtues of faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection and love. When these Spirit-driven virtues consume our lives, drifting, stumbling, and falling become virtually impossible.  But remember, there are enemies to the divine nature (distraction and drift) that want to see you land hard on your fanny and take you out of the game.  

What’s your desire today? Would you rather continue to be constantly picking yourself off your spiritual gluteus maximus or would you rather have the divine nature shine through you?  Pretty easy answer, isn’t it? 

-Phil Niekerk

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Day 12 | Awake My Soul . . .

When my first child was placed in my arms (after a lot of hard work I might add), I was completely smitten with this pint-size being who looked a lot like my husband. He wrapped his little finger around my heart and has never let go. 

As I watched this little man grow, I delighted in . . .
               . . . the way he explored his world.
               . . . the way he was unafraid to try anything new.

               . . . his sweet way of wrapping his chubby little arms around my neck.
             . . . the way he looked at life – his sorrow over the “broken moon” and his joy in the gift of a dandelion.

I wanted to know everything I could about this little boy who had invaded our home and turned our world upside down.

In Psalm 37.4,  God makes a promise. 

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.  (NLT)

There’s a condition to the promise.  Do you see it?  In order to get our heart’s desires, we must delight in our God.

Unreserved.  Outrageous.  Audacious.  Delight.
Can you really take delight in someone you don’t know?  Delight comes in the Knowing. 
How can we delight in a God we do not know?  "Sure," you might say, "I know about God!"  BUT . . . There's a huge difference between knowing ABOUT God and KNOWING God.

Long ago God invaded my life, turning my world upside down and I've discovered something in this journey:   

The more I spend time with Him, the more I know Him, the easier it is to take pleasure in Him,  to delight in . . .
               . . . the way He knows me best and loves me most.
               . . . the way He cares for me in my brokenness.
               . . . the way He reveals Himself to me.
               . . . the way He satisfies my deepest longings.
And the more I delight in Him the more my desires become His desires.  I want what He wants.  I can’t seem to get enough of Him. 

But when I neglect keeping company with God, justifying that hearing a sermon, or being in my Bible study group covers my alone time with God and me, when I let busyness steal away my moments with Him, I delight in Him less.  

Instead of hungering for more of Him, I discover even a little of God is too much to take and my heart’s desires begin to change.  I crave an In-and-Out burger more than I desire my Savior.  I value people’s opinions of me more than I value God’s.

And before I know it I have all sorts of overwhelming desires clamoring for my attention.  Each calling out in their own way, claiming to feed my need for identity, worth and importance.  Each promising satisfaction that never seems to satisfy.

Why do I choose the temporal over the eternal?  Why do I delight more in a ballgame than in my Creator?

How fickle my heart and how woozy my eyes . . .  
. . . AWAKE MY SOUL . . . 
 (Mumford and Sons)

Awake my soul, O LORD!  Teach me to follow hard after You. Let me delight in Your presence more than anything else.  May my desires become Your desires for You are the One who Satisfies fully . . .  Loves Completely . . . and Never lets go.   Amen. 

-Kristi Huseby

Broken and Redeemed Blog