The Knowledge that Leads to Mature Faith

summer_landscape_with_forest_lane_path_pathway_way_going_cg1p52762453c_thA favorite passage of mine is found in John 6. To give a little background, the chapter begins with Jesus feeding 5,000 people with fish and bread. Afterwards, His disciples are crossing the lake, a storm comes and Jesus comes to them walking on the water. Later, He discusses with the crowd who He is as the Bread of Heaven, and the Bread of Life. Many doubt and question Him, and He then speaks of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Many of His listeners became offended and because of that, many turned away from following Him. At this point, Jesus turns to the twelve. “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that You are the Holy One of God.” (verses 67-69)

Peter and the others undoubtedly did not understand what Jesus meant in speaking about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Yet they did not become offended like the others. Why is that? He answers this question by saying, “We have come to believe and to know…”  The Greek word translated “believe” literally means, “to think to be true; to be persuaded of; to credit; to place confidence in.” It can also mean “mere acknowledgement of some fact or event; intellectual faith.”

The word translated “know” means “get a knowledge of, perceive; feel; to know, understand; to become acquainted with.” “It is a Jewish idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and a woman.” In other words, it speaks of experiential knowledge. Peter is, in essence, saying, “We have thought you are truly who You say You are; we have even been confident in what we believe, but more than that, we have come to know You personally. We have been in relationship with You, and we now know without a doubt, that You are the Messiah.”  

Many say they believe in God, in Jesus, yet they get offended with Him when He doesn’t do things the way they think He should, or the way they would like Him to. Deep down, they still believe they know what is right, they are capable of determining what is best in their situations. Rather than searching their own hearts, they decide to turn away from following Him. At some point in our lives, we’ve all done this. Some people will turn back while others will not.

If we are going to grow into a place of mature faith, however, we must truly come to know Him, just as we would get to know someone face to face. Spending time with Him, in worship, prayer, meditating on His Word and entering into His presence enable us to really know His heart. Then, like Peter and the other disciples, we may encounter situations that we do not understand, but knowing His heart will enable us to remain steadfast. Others will doubt and question Him, but we will say, “Lord, to whom shall we go? There is no one besides You. You alone are life, abundant, eternal life.” 

 

Thoughts From My Heart this Christmas

starofwonderChristmas is upon us once again followed by another New Year. It seems every year goes by faster and faster. Looking back often seems like a blur of days, weeks, and months, with brief moments suspended in time, highlighted in our memories. Some are joyful, some are painful, sprinkled amongst the seemingly mundaneness of daily life. Over the past several years, for me, December has been a time to reflect on the past year, evaluating both the progress and failures made. It is an opportunity to remember those who are no longer with us and to treasure the days with those who are.

If it is God’s will, a brand new year awaits us, offering new possibilities, new friends, new experiences, new chances to learn new things, and new challenges. We should approach this coming year with the eyes of faith, expectant and hopeful of seeing the goodness of the Lord. I sense that this new year is going to be full of changes. Change is good, but not always welcome or easy. We are creatures of habit, too often stuck in the ruts of our ways. But complacency is not true life, rather it is just existing, trying to get through each day, content to stay in the rut. I sense God is not going to let us continue to stay in that place, at least, those who are hungry for something they have yet to experience.

Most of this month, I have felt an unusual restlessness in my spirit. Though difficult to describe, it’s like I know something is coming. I sense big changes are brewing, possibly very soon, but I have no clue what it is or looks like. I’ve had a similar feeling before, though it’s been several years. I just know that I can’t stay here, in this place, any longer. There is more out there, somewhere, and it is calling out to me. It may not have anything to do with physically moving or leaving a location, in fact, I’m fairly certain it’s not that at all. It is a deep stirring in my spirit, a “deep calls out to deep” feeling that only God can answer. It feels like a “kairos” moment is fast approaching. And the longing within me is quickly reaching a level that is greater than my fear of the unknown. Yes, I’ve been here before, and it’s a dangerous place to be. If you can relate at all, you know what I mean. It is one of those “I can’t go back to life as usual ever again” kind of moments.

I am reminded that my life is not my own, I was bought at a great price. My heart, and all that I am belongs to the Lover of my soul. He has led me through some difficult places, but He has never led me astray and He never will. Wherever He leads, by His grace, I will follow, knowing that His heart toward me is full of incomprehensible love. If you are reading this, these same things are true for you as well. He will not take anyone deeper than we are willing to go. His offer is for “whosoever will.” Whosoever will lay down their fears, their plans, their agendas, even their dreams, and follow Him wherever He may go.  What about you? Do you hear Him calling you to come deeper? Do you feel a holy discontent with life as usual? If you are, I encourage you to take a leap of faith and see where He takes you. Your life will never be the same.

P.S. I will be taking a short break for the next couple of weeks to enjoy my family during the holidays. I pray you have a wonder-full Christmas season and a joyous New Year!

 

 

 

Why We Long to Be Beautiful (or Handsome)

images  I love the springtime. Spring is the season for new life, and new life always brings hope. Spring bursts forth with a symphony of color and fragrance that declares our God is a lover and creator of beauty. I sometimes wonder at the artistry of such a fallen world and how heaven could compare. I’m sure there are no words adequate to describe. Have you ever wondered why He made so many different kinds of flowers? Or birds? Or creatures under the sea? Or the purpose of the loveliness of a sunset? The Bible says the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, and I believe springtime is one way He shows off His glory!

We were created with a desire for beauty…but why? Because God is beautiful and He makes all things beautiful in their time. Beauty inspires awe and a sense of well being. Somehow it makes it seem as though all is right in the world. The absence of it causes life to appear bleak, drab, and hopeless. Can you imagine what the world would be like if God made everything black and white? Loveliness provokes creativity, life, and joy. One of my favorite Scripture passages is Song of Songs 2:10-13, My beloved spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me.” Whenever I feel down, this passage always lifts my spirit. 

Not only do we have a desire for beauty, but also a deep longing to be beautiful. Our society takes advantage of this innate need. Hundreds of ads and commercials deceptively promise to make us more beautiful, or our homes, cars, wardrobes, etc., more desirable if only we buy their products. Of course, our enemy plays on it as well by influencing us to endlessly compare ourselves with others, or alter our appearance through harmful diet fads, plastic surgery, excessive exercise, etc. But these things will never satisfy this longing.

Mike Bickle, in his book, The Seven Longings of the Human Heart, writes, “What does a longing actually mean? Few words in the English language capture such depth of emotion in two short syllables. A longing is not a superficial want that might be satisfied by a simple act of kindness. A longing is not even a genuine need for which we can demand satisfaction. Longing goes deeper than that. A longing is an ache of the heart. It is a cavity of the human spirit crying to be filled. In its deepest sense it is neither a true verb nor a true noun, but combines the two, spanning the gap between emotion and genuine need. It is an intangible feeling that ebbs and flows, yet it is a concrete reality. It cannot be reasoned with, negated or dismissed. One way or another, whether legitimately or illegitimately, a human longing will be filled. It must be.” 

God created this longing within us to draw us to Himself, the beautiful God, the Lover of our soul who aches to fill it. The beauty of springtime, and the world around us serves not only to show forth His glory, but to woo us, to romance us as His beloved bride. He sees everyone of us as beautiful, for He made us. Even more amazing, He thinks we’re beautiful with all of our faults, flaws, and shortcomings! Ponder that for a while. No matter what others may think or say, how you think you compare to your friends, or even what you see when you look in the mirror, there is One who is beaming with joy and delight when He looks at you. Even now He is saying to you, My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hiding places on the mountainside, show Me your face, let Me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.”  (SOS 2:14)

 

 

A Matter of Perspective

Perspective is everything. It is the lens through which you see and interpret life. Thoughtree it is greatly shaped by your unique upbringing, it is possible to change, and usually does change in many ways as you grow older. It has the power to dictate, to a large degree, the outcome of your life. In spite of its ability to influence your choices (often unknowingly), you are capable of determining what your perspective will be.

Here’s a simple example: do you remember visiting someone’s house as a child and thinking the house was really big, only to re-visit the same house as an adult, and being surprised to find it was much smaller than you remembered? The house didn’t change, it is exactly the same. You changed physically, from a small child to an adult, and therefore, your perspective (of the house) changed completely. Some people see a glass filled halfway with liquid as half-full, while others see it as half-empty. Both are a matter of perspective.

Most of us, when faced with adversity, would see it as a problem. But what if instead, we saw it as an opportunity? Instead of stressing out, worrying, getting angry, etc., we looked to see how God was going to show up for us, meet our need, or even change our heart? Rather than our first thought being, “Oh no! Now what am I going to do?” it was, “Oh wow! I can’t wait to see how God is going to turn this around for good!” I’ve been pondering this question a lot lately…why do we almost always see things from a negative perspective rather than a positive one? I often catch myself doing this more often than I’d like to admit, and it has been bothering me for some time now.

It seems when God is pointing His finger at something that needs changing in you, you start seeing it in almost everyone around you first. And it really gets on your nerves. Have you ever noticed that, or is it just me? I believe those of us who are Jesus followers should be the most hopeful, joyful, people on the planet because He is Hope, and He is Joy. And more than anything, I want to be like Him. The older I get, the more I realize how desperately I need Him to change me – and my perspective. I’m so very thankful that He not only is able, but willing, because that is His desire as well. He wants children that are a reflection of His nature, and He absolutely LOVES taking us through the process! And, I never thought I would say this, but I’m learning to love it, too!

In what ways has God changed your perspective? In what ways would you like Him to? I would love to hear your comments!