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God's Will 3

Hey quick thanks to everyone with their insightful comments. I know this issue hits close to home that is the whole reason I wanted to discuss it!
We have at least one more post on this subject after today's but today I want to do what I do often and take a bit of a rabbit trail.  My last post was all about the fact that often God stops talking because you should already know what He wants you to do!  That can be a depressing message or it can be an uplifting one! 
Let's deal with depressing first.  I know that for years I begged God to give me the next Word because the last one was unbearable!  I was so sick and tired of languishing in that place!  Working so hard and getting no where.  Dreaming big and seeing nothing.  Trying and failing or having moderate success at best.  It is an exhausting, confusing, frustrating ordeal.  It really really sucks.  It makes you wonder if you heard Him right after all.  It makes you question, "is He good?  Is he real?  Does He even care? Did I do something wrong?" etc etc etc. 
Let me help you if I can.  I want to lift your vision higher than it is.  We get so lost in the, in our face, day by day, realities that we forget what this life is all about.  We were made to be enjoyers of God.  We were formed to be loved by Him and to love Him in return.  EVERYTHING that happens to us, good, bad, tragic, joyful all of it is a gift from the lover of our souls TEACHING us to love Him more.  He puts us in the desert so we can come out leaning on Him like in Song of Solomon.  The Bible has lots to say about this.  I love Paul.  "I consider that this present suffering is NOT WORTH COMPARING with the GLORY that will be revealed in me." or a little later "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" and James, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." and especially Jesus, "Blessed are they who mourn for they will be comforted".
This life isn't about this life!  This life is about the NEXT LIFE!!!  We were made for eternity!  This life has value and worth and eternal significance no question.  This life will determine what our eternal state will be.  That is why we must run the course of this life with obedience, endurance, and patience, but this life is not an end in itself.   So when we obey the Lord and it all fails it is no failure.  When we see what looks like meaningless disaster we know it is not meaningless.  When we dream and our dreams slip away we know they do not slip away forever!  Everything we lose we get back and 100 fold more because the resurrection is real coming.  Jesus said that a seed has to die and go into the ground for fruit to come forth.  God is so much more concerned with eternal fruit, on the inside and the outside of us, than He is the puny grapes of temporal accomplishment.  So even when you feel like you are accomplishing nothing you are WRONG AND it is no excuse to give up and stop pushing, reaching, and believing.  Everything God calls us to do is hard and sometimes He calls us to fail!  I believe that!  We will look back at our failures and see the unstoppable grace of God working in our lives to make us more like Christ.  It is the proof of our faith that is more precious than gold NOT the proof of our effectiveness!

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God's Will - part 2

Last time we talked about the fact the yes God speaks and we all know that when he speaks our job is to say "yes".  So the question stands, "what do we do when God says.....................................................nothing?"  
The truth is that there are often times when God says nothing.  In fact the longer I follow the Lord it seems the less He chooses to inform me of what my next step ought to be.  It reminds me of the old Sunday School song, "Deep and Wide".  Remember that song?  The reason it reminds me of that song is the way we used to sing it.  At first we would sing all the words and do all the motions but after once or twice we would replace some of the words with hmmmm so it went to, "deep and hmmm.  deep and hmmm.  There's a fountain flowing deep and hmm."  etc etc until the whole song was "hmmms" (why the heck did we sing it like that anyway?).  I think God kind of does that with us.  At first it seems He guides very specifically, when you need direction he gives it, when you ask for wisdom it comes, but later in your walk He starts hmmming more and more!  At least that's how it feels.
But does God really stop talking?  I heard a guy talking about this the other day and the pastor he was talking too said, "God never stops talking.  You stop listening because what He has to say now is just harder to hear than it was before, it cost you more."  Maybe he's right.  You know the older you get the more your decisions cost you, because you have more to lose!  Maybe that's part of it.  I know my own heart well enough to know that I have shut down the voice of God before.  I guess before I accuse God of not talking I should make sure I am actually listening. 
I do not think however that it is always a case of us not listening.  I honestly think that God says less to us about life decisions as we get further on in life.  I think He says less to us because we should already know!  For example I don't have to tell my 6 year old to go to the bathroom, when he needs to he go he goes.  If he waited until I told him to go he would end up wetting himself.  How ridiculous would it be if he came to me one day and said, "Dad why haven't you told me to go to the bathroom?  I peed all over myself because I was waiting for you to tell me to go!"  God is growing us up!  He is leading us to greater responsibility and freedom.  Isn't that the job of parents?  We raise our kids teaching them our values and our way of life and as they learn they need our instruction and guidance less and less.  We hope, that because they know what we expect of them, they will choose what it right and best.  God does the same.
God fills us with knowledge of Himself and His ways.  He gives us dreams, passion and vision and sets loose in the world.  He expects us to choose our course based upon the desires of our hearts, the circumstances that surround us, and the resources He puts into our hands.  He expects us to understand His desire for "much fruit" and act toward that end BECAUSE it is OUR DESIRE TOO!!!  God wants us to do what we want because hopefully our desires are aligned with His.  That's all a parent can hope for isn't it, that your kids will make good decisions when they grow up because they share your values.  They care about the same things that you care about.
There is a scripture I am chewing on that reveals this sentiment in the heart of God.
2 Chronicles 16:9 "For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His."
Wow what a statement about our God.  He is looking for friends and He is looking for partners who's hearts belong to Him.  He is looking for them so that He can strongly support them.  Imagine the strong support of God behind everything we do.  Wow.  What a freeing beautiful concept. 
To wrap this part of the discussion up I will tell you how the Lord phrased this in my heart. "Josh stop asking me what I want you to do.  I am asking you.  What do you want to do together with me?  What are you dreaming about?  What do YOU want to do lets do the impossible together!" 



God's Will

All my life I have been waiting for the "call" of God.  All my life I have waited at the corners of my life for God to say however softly, "go left" or "go right".  I've been waiting for the thunderous audible voice of the Lord, "Go to Africa!!!!!" etc.  I have never heard it.  There have been important moments in my life where God has given direction even recently with my stepping down from youth ministry  He spoke to me and told me now was the time.  There have been important moments in my life where God has said No and Yes, but more often than not, when I am seeking direction, God seems silent.  I have had so many moments where I was standing at the fork in the road and yelling to the heavens, "JUST TELL ME God!  LEFT OR RIGHT?"  I've watched the skies for clouds in the shape of an L or R.  I've prayed for a squirrel to come down out of a tree and make an arrow out of nuts on the road.  Something ANYTHING!  I've even suggested to God easy ways for Him to direct me like, "Ok God if you want me to go left send a wind from the left, and if you want me to go right send a wind from the right!", or my personal favorite "Alright God I'm going right and if you DON'T want me to go right have a black cat cross the road in front of me."  Anything I can do to MAKE God speak to me I'll try it.  Even threatening God. "If you don't talk to me I'm going to just do what I want to do and you will be to blame if it all falls apart!"  I think maybe that is the point.  We want to be sure that, whatever we are going to do it is going to succeed.  We don't want to RISK anything, and we want a scape goat to blame if it all falls apart.  "Well this was YOUR idea God so it is YOUR fault!"
I am learning slowly but surely that God's will for our lives is not as.... mysterious as I have always thought it was.  God wants us to do what He has made us to do, and He wants us to be happy to do it. 
You see, in the church culture that was my upbringing there is a lot of talk about, "what is God's will for my life", and callings, and direction, and I am glad there was.  It taught me never to make a decision without talking to God about it first.  It gave me the rock solid understanding that God is the one that is the ruler of my life and that when He calls you say yes without hesitation!  It taught me that God still speaks to His kids.  What I never learned was what to do when God doesn't speak.  What do we do when God is silent?  I want to explore this over the next few blogs.  I want to give you some insights that I have been getting and I want to dialogue with some of you few readers of this hopefully holy ramble I call a blog.
Also I have begun another blog on Wordpress - for two reasons, #1 I'm looking for something better than Blogger and #2 I am a little bit of a web junky and I have to be involved with whatever the cool new web thing is.  That is the only reason I'm on Twitter and Facebook!  Sad isn't it.  I plan on continuing to blog here on Blogger but maybe have a little different focus on the other blog.   I moved all my posts to that blog too so all my old posts and comments are already over there as well as here, but the new posts will be more directed toward family and relationship issues whereas this blog is all about my personal walk with Christ.  Let's call this one my First Commandment Blog (love the Lord Your God with all that you are) and the other my Second Commandment blog (Love your neighbor as yourself)!  You can find the other blog at www.fromhimthroughhimtohim.wordpress.com if you are at all interested!


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Farther up and Further in!

Last night I announced that as of August 27th I will no longer be a part of the youth ministry of First Assembly of God.  I have been the worship leader and a youth leader at Ignite youth ministries for 7 years.  It has been the most fun, fulfilling, difficult, amazing, powerful, overwhelming, humbling experience of my life.  I have seen God do so many things, change so many lives, and give so many gifts in the time that I have been there.  We have had the most dramatic and powerful worship experiences of my life and some of the worst as well.  The Lord has been so faithful to meet us where we are and chase us down when we didn't want to come.  His deep and unending desire to be with His people has been displayed to me in incredible, lavish, extravagant ways.  I have loved almost every minute of my time there.  I am so unworthy to have even been involved with what He has done.  He is so good, and He is leading me on.
The day before the Fort Wayne One Thing Conference the Lord Spoke to me in a significant way that He was changing my path.  He told me He was calling me into a season of preparation and consecration.  He gave me a whole list of reasons and goals He had for the next season of my life and He told me that none of them could be accomplished to fullness while I was still involved in the youth ministry.  He said to me:
Your priority list is as follows -
  1. Your heart in me - the first commandment in your life. Your heart has begun to cool from to much time in your comfort zone.  There is still life there but there is frost around the edges.  You must keep your heart aflame!
  2. Your family's heart in me - your wife and children need you to be washing them with the Water of my word.  You have not done enough to stir their hearts with love for me.  That is all you've been about in the youth ministry but you have in some ways neglected that responsibility with your wife and kids.
  3. Your heart toward others - there are people I have placed in your life that I want you to invest in and you have not had the time.  Make use of the time and pour into their lives in a more intimate and costly way.
  4. Preparation for your future - I have a calling on your life.  I have a destiny but you are not ready for it yet, and staying where you are will not get you there.  Go back to school, finish your degree and get DEEP in the Word.  I am forming you.  I am equipping you.  The dreams and callings I have spoken over you are still alive and well.  Become a better writer, a better speaker, and gain more wisdom and confidence with people and money.  LEARN and GROW!!
I don't claim these to be the exact words of God but that was the gist and in typical God fashion each of these is expanding to be much bigger than the small beginning I am able to record here.  I can't wait to see the man I become in 5 years which is my guesstimation of how long this next season will last!  Pray for me and for Ignite as this transition moves forward.
Love you all

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Proverbs 29:18

Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint ESV
I have witnessed this reality in so many ways and in so many lives but most significantly in my own.  I love weekends.  I am, by nature, a somewhat lazy person.  I am infected with the disease of my generation, procrastination!  I spend most of my weekends doing as little as possible.  Oh sure there is stuff that needs to be done.  My lawn requires maintenance.  There are things around the house that need to be done.  There are places to go and things to see, but still I find myself planted infront of the TV watching nothing or playing a video game and I resent any attempt to remove me from my sedentary settledness. 
I know I shouldn't be lazy.  To be entirely honest I don't even really enjoy it.  I know the truth of passages like, "A little slumber, a little sleep, a little folding of the hands to rest and poverty comes upon you like a bandit" (my memory may be faulty no time to look it up this morning).  I have heard the exhortations of the scriptures.  I am haunted by the parable of the talents but none of these can stir me permanently from my lethargy on a Saturday morning.  There is one thing however that can.  A purpose.  A vision.  If I am working toward an end that burns in my heart then limitless energy and endless resource are mine.  If I have a finish line burning in my tunnel vision laziness no longer has a claim on me.  I am a man on a mission, but when I do not have that guiding star in sight I relapse into cycles of destruction and slumber, and so does everyone else.
You see it everywhere all the time.  People walking around with no goals visions or aspirations, the living dead.  This is the greatest struggle of my generation.  I spoke to a friend last week and she is really worried about her husband. His entire life consists of getting up, going to work, coming home, flopping in the lazy boy and watching TV until he falls asleep, waking up around midnight or later and going to bed, and then beginning the whole thing over again.  He has no friends and is doing nothing to gain them.  He has no hobbies and doesn't want one.  He resents his wife and his family.  He hates his life and it is tearing their marriage apart.  He is completely unmotivated and at the same time completely dissatisfied with his life.  You would think that dissatisfaction would be a motivator for change but it almost never is.  People come to the place where they acknowledge their dissatisfaction and choose to live with it rather than risk the reach for something better.  They know that change is often painful, always costly,and NEVER safe, therefore they run from it, avoiding it at all costs and choosing numbness, sleep, and death. 
Let's return to the above sited scripture then; "where there is NO prophetic vision the people cast off restraint".  I have painted a picture of paralysis and stillness, not a people "casting off" anything how does this make sense?  It makes perfect sense.  "The human heart is a desire factory" says John Piper and he is absolutely correct.  The lethargy I am referring to is a lethargy of forward motion, but no on can go on forever desiring and not doing something to quench the inner fires.  People in this predicament look for ways to numb the pain.  They forget morality and cast off the restraint of wisdom and seek pleasure and release in every way that comes to hand.  I know men who have sought perverted extra-marital relationships, deeper and deeper pornography addictions,  drugs, alcohol and violence just because they were bored.   They have no purpose in life, therefore they have nothing to lose.  All they value is a lack of pain.  I have heard addicts say things like, "It isn't about the high, it's about feeling normal again, it's about surviving."  This is the cry of the cold dead heart.
A prophetic vision however enters this cold grave like a breath of life and awakens the heart to something BETTER!  Rev 19:10 says "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy".  A prophetic vision is a vision of Christ.  Jesus always said of His own ministry that He never did anything He didn't SEE the Father doing.  When we get a view to what Christ is up to in our world it will compel us to get off our backsides and get our hands dirty, and I don't just mean what we would label "ministry".  the longer I am around the more I HATE the segmentation of life into categories.  Our life is a continuous whole and we will be held accountable for every second used or wasted.  God have mercy!  What is Christ up to in our homes?  What is Christ up to in our inner man?  What is Christ up to in our back yards?  In our jobs? 
It is going to be my goal over the next few weeks to open my heart and ask my Father everyday to show me what is doing around me on that day and to involve myself in it whole heartedly.  He is never idle.  Therefore I will never be.

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Old Blogs Old Journals

I love going back every once in a while and reading old things that I have written in the heat of passion for God.  I have many of my journals from when I was a teenager.  I found a devotional today that my Mom and Dad gave me on my wedding day.  I read in these statements of faith, prayers, desires, etc that were so strong in me and in reading I revive those emotions.  To look back and see the patience that God has had with my stubborn heart and the methodical yet loving way that He has led me down the path of seeking Him stirs me.  Am I really any closer than I was all those years ago?  Do I know you any better Daddy God?  I really hope I do.  I once heard it said that everything Jesus is involved in will grow and change and that if we are not growing or changing we need to see how involved Jesus is with us.  I definitely feel like I have changed!  I hope for the better.  Do yourself a favor friends.  Record your walk with God.  Write, Journal, Blog do what you have to do but do not let God's activity in your life go unmarked and unremembered. 
I hope and pray that anyone who reads these little sentences I squirt into cyberspace is uplifted and encouraged but to be entirely honest, this is for me and God, and that is why I do it.



The redemptive story of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

I know you are all thinking, "Willy Wonka and redemption has Josh been snorting Hershey's again or what?", but trust me and hang in there and wait for it because, folks this is GOOD! 
Ok check this out. 
An eccentric Genius "creator" Wonka has made the most wonderful enjoyable things for a long time.  He is odd and mysterious and he does things in ways no one can understand, but it is his wisdom and eccentricity that make his creations so wonderful.  
Now we arrive on the scene.  The "creator" offers "eternal enjoyment" a life time supply of chocolate, but you get to tour the factory first "live life".   On the tour "life" you are required to follow the creator's rules for enjoyment of the pleasures that abound inside the factory.  There is however a "counterfeit creator" Slugworth who hates the creator and offers his own version of eternal enjoyment if those touring the factory will only steal from the creator and break his rules. Once the tour begins candies, sweets, and experimental goodies are everywhere you look but enjoyment of those things must be according to the rules of the creator.  These are rules he has set in place for their safety and to maximize the enjoyment of the factory.  Here is the most important part.  If at anytime you violate the creators rules of enjoyment you are no longer eligible for the eternal enjoyment he is going to award at the end of the tour.  As the lucky tourists walk through the beautiful, amazing, overwhelming creations of the creator each of them finds the temptation to step outside the rules to powerful to deny.  One by one all of the tourists, even the hero Charlie, break the rules of the creator and all to disastrous result.  Charlie however does not get caught in the act. 
    They proceed to the end of the tour and the awaiting eternal reward losing another person at every turn. Those that are lost all leave the factory vowing to choose the alternative enjoyment of the "counterfeit creator".    When the end is reached Charlie alone remains, and he is confident of his reward, but the creator has not been fooled.  He tells Charlie he gets none of the expected reward due to his disobedience and foolishness.  Charlie's Grandpa Joe is irate he screams at the creator about his false promises and unfair cruelty to an innocent child.  Grandpa Joe also vows to choose the alternative enjoyment of the counterfeit creator and goes to leave, but Charlie realizes his own error.  He repents, rejects the counterfeit creators temptations and readies himself to leave with nothing, and that is when the tables turn.  Charlie's repentance moves the creator's heart and he says joyfully.  "You've won!" but not just the eternal enjoyment of a life time supply of chocolate.  Charlie has won so much more than that.  Here the hidden desire of the creator is revealed.  The creator did not just want to give away a life time supply of chocolate, the creator wanted someone to be his partner in ruling and reigning over the factory, and even more importantly the creator wanted a friend that he could teach his ways too.  He had this plan from the beginning but he could only give this awesome reward to one who chose HIS ways and HIS reward over those offered by counterfeit creator.  The whole point of the story is that the real prize isn't the factory or the chocolate it is the mysterious creator Himself.
What a picture of God the Father and His heart for the church!  Isn't that cool!  The only element that is missing is the story of the creator's son who died to save Charlie's life and make the way for Charlie to get his reward.  That would make it perfect!  Even better would be if Charlie was a girl and Wonka had a son who gave up the factory and His Father's wealth to die to save the girl's life and then through some kind of magic candy he was restored to life and married the girl at the end!  maybe I'll write that one sometime!
Oh Lord let me walk right past all the pleasures of this world and lay hold of the ONE who they point to.  You are my exceeding great reward. 



The Everyday Fight

You know I don't know what it is, but keeping my heart alive in God is a FIGHT!  In days past I just let things come and go, some days I was attentive to the Spirit and some days I wasn't and that was just how it was.  I can no longer allow that kind of inconsistency in my own heart.  The grace of God has awakened me again to my desperate and constant need for the influence and assistance of the Holy Spirit.  I need Him just to make it through the day right now.  There is a line to a song that is making more sense to me all the time it says, "but now I see that I'm more complete everyday that I can't live without you."  I'm saying amen to that with all my heart, but man it is hard to stay in the place of leaning.  Isn't that weird?  It's hard to stay in the place of dependence on God.  Why?  It is a battle to rest.  It is a battle to be at peace.  wow.
You know God is teaching me about some huge issues right now and I am really really excited about them all.  He is teaching me how to say Yes to Him.  He is teaching me what it means to have faith the size of a mustard seed.  He is teaching me how to be a friend.  He is teaching me about the calling on the church as a collective whole to behold and reflect the Glory of God to the earth and back to God Himself.  He is teaching me about the place of wisdom in the heart of a believer.  He is teaching me about creativity and productivity and how God created us to live in such a way that He is the fountain but we are the outflow.  He is teaching me the REALITY that God works by creating a man and putting dreams in His heart and empowering that man as He operates from faith to create something beautiful that produces fruit for the Kingdom and brings Glory to God.  All of these things are being planted in me right now, but the one that is REALLY HARD for me to learn right now is the one that feels the smallest but that I think is probably the biggest.  How to stay "in the vine".  How to flow in "repentance and rest" and "quietness and trust" every minute of every day.  How to keep my heart in God.  How to lean.  How to wait.  wow.  Oh God I want this thing.  I can't even explain it, but I want it.  I need it.



Downward Ascension

In God's kingdom we must go down to go up.  This militates vehemently against the world system which says, pull yourself up as high as you can and knock down anyone who tries to take your spot.  Jesus says the meek will inherit the earth, the poor in spirit will gain the kingdom of God and the persecuted are the happy ones!  I am feeling a little upside down today.  I have lofty dreams that I believe are from God.  I want to be a man that changes history.  I want to be a man that brings real Glory to God.  I could honestly care less if my name is ever known, that is not the point, I don't want to live a life without meaning or accomplishment.  I want to know that I did all I could with all I had by the grace of God.  I want to see Heaven respond to my cry because my heart is aligned with His purposes and I am saying YES.  I want to be jealous with His jealousy and stand in the gap for a nation, a state, a city, and a generation.  I do not think these desires are my own, or my flesh seeking glory for itself.  I believe this is the prophetic calling of God, but not just for me.  I believe it is an invitation to a generation.  I believe it is a stirring from Heaven over His bride to stand in her place beside the groom.  The only question is, "How?"
It is the "How?" that gets us in trouble.  If we attempt to do this in ways that make sense to us we will fail miserably or worse we will have an ounce of success and get satisfied with that when it is NOTHING like what God has in His great heart for us to be.  So "How?".  I don't really know or rather I don't know it all!  I know it will look like the sermon on the mount.  I know it will look like humility, and compassion, prayer and worship.  It will look like the God of all coming down to take on the frame of man forever.  I know it will look like doing what the Father is doing, saying what He is saying.  That much I know, but I don't think there can be a handbook written on this.  I don't think it will fit in a seminar or a how to.  I don't think 4 points will cover it and I don't think a program can teach it.
I think it is about living incarnationally.  Not doing God's things but BEING the beauty of Christ Jesus on the face of the earth.  Impossible right?  That's exactly why it will work.  John 17 has been informing me on this, but I am only scratching the surface of this reality.  I have lots more to say about this I am very much in process.  Stay tuned.



Fighting to stay

The Lord has done some beautiful things in my heart over the past couple weeks.  I have had a brand new passion installed in my heart.  I new sense of calling, a sweet intimacy and joy with Him that has been so satisfying and wonderful!  I love it, but this Jealous Lover of mine is not satisfied with where we are.  I am almost willing to kind of sit here and say, "this is a good place I don't want to leave", but the Lord will not allow me to sit still. EVERY opportunity to be with Him that I miss He brings to my attention.  Every time I choose something else instead of Him He lets me know.  Not in a guilt ridden way where I feel horrible about it, but in a prodding way.  "I want you and you missed me here." etc.  I am trying to sleep but He keeps my heart awake and I keep running to door handles covered with myrrh an instant to late to catch Him waiting for me.  It is maddening and wonderful all at the same time.  He is provoking me.  I like it. 
So I find myself fighting my flesh at every turn.  My flesh wants to stay the same, to hide from His presence and to sleep, but my inner man has been awakened and it keeps pushing me away from those places of comfort and apathy.  I prayed for this you know and He said yes!  My most real fear right now is that I will sleep once to often and He will stop waking me up.  I know what happened to the Shulammite and I don't want to be beaten and stolen from.  So I am fighting to stay AFTER HIM, and it is an uphill battle for my own heart.  Pray for me my friends!  I want to burn!



Little things big problems

I was confronted by the Holy Spirit this morning (He is doing that a lot lately He is so jealous for my heart!!).  I was asking the Lord about some emotional struggles I've been in the past couple of days and He brought me back to a point of disobedience that I had a couple of days ago.  I was supposed to talk to a friend about a particular issue, I felt the Holy Spirit pushing me to do so at that moment.  I knew I should but I rationalized about it and disobeyed.  I didn't talk to my friend. 
The Holy Spirit said that I made that decision out of fear, and that fear was brought on by pride.  He said that my, "yes" to the spirit's of fear and pride gave them permission to mess with my head in other areas.  It has held me back from worship, and a great deal of what God has had to say to me over the past few days.  Now I have been in a period of personal revival for a couple weeks.  I have been really enjoying a new level of intimacy with the Lord and a fresh desire for Him that has continued to grow and grow, but I noticed a sharp drop off over the weekend.  The problem is that I went ALL weekend without asking Him what was going on.  I spent the whole weekend closing my heart down and allowing myself to drift away.  I found myself being drawn toward temptations and had a really bad attitude most of the time.  My wife and kids hated the sight of me.  Sunday was the one bright spot.  I knew then that the Lord was calling me out of that darkness but I couldn't figure out how it had gone so far.  Then the Holy Spirit hit me with this bomb this morning.  I repented and feel a lot more freedom and responsiveness to the Lord in my heart but I cost myself something wonderful.
The enemy uses little doors to get into us in big ways.  He is very good at that. He looks for the chinks in your defense and uses them for all they are worth.  He finds the places where we are week and worms through into our lives and takes control.   Any and Every agreement with him is dangerous because it opens the doors for his influence and action in your life.  However Any and Every agreement with God opens our lives to his influence and action in our lives and we desperately need that!!! 
So Father I confess my own Pride and Fear before my blogging friends and I ask you Father for you forgiveness and your help.  I ask you to help me to see when the spirit's associated with these things send hidden darts into my mind and to refuse to agree with them.  I renounce ALL agreements that I have made with Fear and Pride in Jesus name and reject all authority that they have usurped due to my agreement with them!  I restore all authority to Christ in my life and ask you Father to teach me to say YES to every prompting of your Spirit.  I want to live, eat, sleep and breathe agreement with Jesus and His will for my life.  I choose the better part that is Christ.  He is the all-satisfying, all-delightful, all-loving, ever flowing fountain of my joy and I drink deeply of all that He gives right now in Jesus name. 
One more little note.  I want to encourage myself and anyone that might read this to invite the presence and the leadership of the Lord into every aspect of life.  I know that I often either don't want his leadership or don't seek it because in some way I feel I don't "need" it in that place.  I get into the routine and eb and flow of everyday life and my heart shuts down to the presence and leadership of the Holy Spirit.  I am asking the Lord to wake me up when that happens so I can keep my heart open to His call.


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I want to give birth

I was hoping to get your attention with the title of this blog!  I was sitting working today listening to one of my favorite bands, my mind and my heart straying in the netherworld of nonthought that is caffeine crash when a thought and a desire bubbled to the surface of my murky moodiness.  I actually meant for it to.  I do this often you see.  I set my heart on a quest for the Lord and let it run without editing until I stumble on something of the Holy Spirit or at least something of a little thicker substance than the moment by moment chicken broth of feelings and convictions.  Some of the most dramatic revelations from the Lord have come in moments like this when I saturate my heart with the word and then ask the Holy Spirit to guide my random contemplation to gravitas!  It actually happened two times today but the first time is much to big and unexplored for today's blog.  I'll get back to you in a couple of weeks after I have had some Bible time with it, but I digress. 
The particular flash of light I want to ponder in writing right now is this.  To produce anything of real beauty and lasting significance it requires patience, diligence and careful effort.  I am listening now to my flavor of the last six months This Will Destroy You.  They are a band from Austin Texas whose instrumental post-rock has been serenading my soul.  At the moment they have shifted my entire idea of what kind of music I enjoy.  I highly recommend them, but I digress again.  I began to think about the creative process.  Some of my friends are in another state as I type and they are laboring over their first foray into the post-rock small town (I would say "world" but it's just not that big) and it is proving to be a challenge.  I worth while challenge, but a challenge none the less.  I began to chew on the reality that I have never really spent a considerable amount of time and energy on any creative endeavor.  Sure I've taken a few minutes to sit down and pound out a blog, or a few days to write a poem to completion but those things by their very nature are capturing one moment in time and labor over them would most likely steal the very spontaneity they are meant to ensnare.  They are also transient in their scope and significance; and only relevant for about as long at it took to create them, but to see something come that will have deep meaning and longevity takes time and blood sweat and tears.  I realized today that other than maybe one exception (my Casimir Pulaski book that I have been working on now for six months at least) I have never really done any extensive, intensive, costly creative work, but I want to. 
The Lord has called me during the next season of my life to become a deeper, richer, more honest, person.  He wants me to be a man of maturity, humility, bravery and substance.  A man of eloquence and depth born of drinking deeply from His Word and His presence and quietly, open-heartedly, searching for His revelation in history and the world.  I don't want anything that comes cheap.   I don't want anything that won't last.  I don't want anything that doesn't smack of Sovereign Holy Glory.  From that place of humble receiving will come things of honest beauty.  Things that will glorify my Holy Father and reflect the light of the glory of His grace in Christ Jesus.  Things I can lay at His feet at the end of the day and say, "it came from you, through you in me, and now finally back to you my King."
So now back to the title.  I heard a story once that a well known preacher sat down after a magnificent sermon and almost collapsed in his chair.  When the man sitting next to him asked him why he was so exhausted he said something to the effect of, "that is as close as any man ever comes to carrying and giving birth to a child".  I want to carry something beautiful and then give birth to it through pain and travail.  Then I will love it and care enough about it to hold myself from cutting corners and making excuses.  Lord impregnate me!

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If you Love me...

In John 14:15 Jesus says, "If you love me you will obey my commandments".  For as long as I can remember I have taken that to mean that in order to prove my love for Jesus I should be about obeying His commandments.  I have heard that preached.  I have taught that myself.  Imagine my surprise when I got that rug pulled out from under me the other day.  I was listening to one of my favorite preachers John Piper, and he mentioned this verse.  He said, "I have heard that verse used so many times to say 'to love is to obey' that is precisely what it does NOT say....It says if you love me..something else happens, obedience!".  When I heard that I groaned.  Chains fell off me that I didn't even know were there!  I have always kind of disliked this verse.  Why?  Because I have always misunderstood it!  Jesus was not laying an obligation on his disciples by saying this!  That's how it felt!  How often have you heard this, "you know if you really loved me you would...." or "if you love the Lord then you should..." fill in the blanks.  A million times right!  That is NOT what Jesus is doing here!  He is not laying a guilt trip on us or an obligation on us he is just stating a fact.  If you love me you will obey my commandments.  Obedience is a byproduct of love not a requirement.  Oh how wonderful is this revelation!  You mean I can just worry about loving Jesus and WATCH as obedience comes flowing from my life?  Now the first commandment makes so much sense!  All the law and the prophets hang on LOVE!!!
Oh let me love you More my Jesus!  Let me love you more!



John 21 This Lover Chasing Me Down

I spent some time in John 21 yesterday.  The story in this last chapter of the book goes like this, Jesus has died and risen again He had shown Himself to His disciples twice now, but Peter is still not ok.  He grabs his buddies and says, "I am going fishing".  That may sound like a pretty harmless statement but for this man it meant a lot more than just a quiet night on the boat.  Peter was running.  Peter's former fishing partners all agreed to go along, to follow him back to safer more predictable days.  The got themselves out on the boat and began the age old rhythm of casting and pulling the net.  They worked all night and caught nothing.  Then just as morning began to break and their long night of hard fruitless hard work was coming to an end they looked up to see a man on the beach.  The man said, "Children do you have any food?"  (If you read in your Bible He did NOT say "fish" in Greek he said "food" or "something to put on bread").  Annoyed and not knowing who the man was they just said, "no".  Then, I think with a slight smile, Jesus said to them, "Cast your nets on the right side and you will find a catch"  Exasperated but with a feeling of vague familiarity they followed the stranger's instructions and the nets filled to overflowing with over 100 large fish.  John got a clue first.  He said, "It is the Lord!"  Peter went to jump out of the boat but then looked down at himself, he was "stripped for work" he looked like a fisherman.  He put on his outer garment and dove into the sea, leaving the other guys to work the boat in dragging the net to shore because it was to full to pull into the boat. 
They had breakfast then together just like old times with Jesus. I am betting Peter kept his robe closed the whole time hoping Jesus would not notice.  After they had eaten Jesus pulled Peter aside.
"Do you love me Peter?" Jesus said
"Yes, Jesus I really care about you" Peter said
"then tend my lambs" Jesus said
"Do you love me Peter? Jesus asked again
"Yes, Jesus I really care about you?" Peter said.
"then shepherd my sheep" Jesus replied
"Peter do you love me?" Jesus asked a third time.  Peter was hurt this time by Jesus questions.  Did Jesus doubt Him?
"Lord you know EVERYTHING you KNOW I love you will all my heart!"  Peter stated emphatically.
"Then feed my lambs" Jesus replied.
Jesus chased him down.  Peter was retreating to a life that Jesus had called him out of. This whole incident is almost a moment by moment replaying of Peter's original calling.  On that day Jesus had said, "FROM NOW ON you will catch men".  Peter, maybe because of his failure in denying Christ, was retreating from a calling he no longer felt or heard, but Jesus was not going to allow Peter to trade destiny for comfort.  Just like the time Peter had walked on the water his eyes were on the waves and danger and removed from Jesus, but once again Jesus was here to pull him out of the waves.  He comes gently to Peter.  With three confessions of love He let's Peter erase the three denials he made and charges Him with a new mission. An uncomfortable one and one that leads to the ultimate sacrifice of love.  Jesus was after Peter's heart.  The question wasn't, "will you serve me?" it was, "do you love me?"  This jealous lover Jesus chased Peter down to bring Him back to love.
I have been in this place lately.  God has set before me a path that I am scared about walking.  It is a path like the water that can only be walked supernaturally (the Lord corrected my language today He said it isn't SUPER natural it is God-natural).  The Lord is jealous for my heart in all things and above all things.  He is not willing to let me go because of my failure.  He is not willing to let me go because of my fear.  He is not willing to let me settle for comfort when he has a higher destiny of true love waiting for me.  He knows that there in comfort, apathy, and sleep I will never be satisfied, but in love even love that leads to martyrdom I will find my greatest satisfaction.  When HE is my great reward!
Jesus thank you for meeting me where I am even when it is a long way from where I'm supposed to be.


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One Thing is here and I need a Word

Well after what feels like decades of waiting the One Thing conference is here in Fort Wayne IN this weekend.  I am so looking forward to it.  I am in desperate need of a word from the Lord.  I have so many things in my heart right now.  So many battles being fought in my soul.  I feel the Holy Spirit tugging me in a direction I know will cost me a lot.  I feel life moving at the speed of light all around me and I am powerless to grab moments from the stream and make them significant.  The truth of Jesus is burning in my heart but in so many ways it is not flowing out of me.  I have blogged before about God calling me to live the gospel and not just believe the gospel.  I have not yet figured out what the heck that means but I have a feeling that, whatever that looks like, it doesn't look a thing like my current style of living.
Oh Holy Spirit give me the first steps to take.  Give me wisdom to do it all in ways that glorify you and bless others.  Give me humility to know that repentance and obedience are not exceptional activities but the base and ground of what it means to be a Christ follower.  I am so hungry to really understand what being a Christ follower means in a real world.  Outside the walls of the church.  Outside the walls of my silence and complacency.  Free me from this cage of convenience and apathy!  Free me from thinking that my religious duties are anything that you have called me to or even anything that please you!  Let me hear you say that my new moons and sacrifices have become an abomination, if indeed they have.  Let me hear you say that if it is true.  Break me out of my waking sleep and give me to real life!  Life more abundant.
I love you Jesus - I really truly do

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A tribute

Today I write a tribute my mother!

She deserves a novel of praise but a blog is the best I can do. 

I love my Dad too and he deserves as much note as Mom but it's not his birthday so too bad Dad!


My Mom has been my favorite person for as long as I can remember.  I am now and will forever be a Momma's boy and I am happy to be so.  She is beautiful, talented, capable, intelligent, passionate, strong, good, generous, honest, and brave and a million other things I cannot think up words for.  The older I get the more I want to be like her.  She gave me my love for music, movies, books, creativity, wit, and conversation.  (Gee thanks for that last Mom it got me in trouble so many times in school.)

I have watched her walk through storms and troubles a millions times and her compass never failed to point to the true north of Christ Jesus.  Her faith and strength have been a refuge for me countless times.  Her wisdom and intelligence have guided me in murky times when I wasn't sure what to do.  She and Dad together in their marriage and their ministry have shown me what sacrificial love and real commitment mean in a real world.  The constant, unfailing, overflowing, and boundless love and support that has flowed from my Momma have been a window on the love of God for me.  Thank you for that Momma.


One more thing.  My Momma inspires me.  Her whole life she has pursued the passions and dreams that God has planted in her heart with a holy violence.  I cannot put down how many times I have watched her face insurmountable obstacles, and almost unanimous resistance with determination and fearlessness, and then watched in awe and pride as she overcame it all and succeeded where others told her she could only fail. 

She is doing so again even now as she is pursuing yet another dream and I stand amazed once again at the strength of her heart.


Momma I stand in applause of you!  The Bible says that the children of mothers like yourself will rise and call you blessed and I do.  You are blessed and I love you. 


Happy Birthday




I wrote this in 2001

What would it be like?


                What would it be like if everyone felt welcome and accepted by everyone else around them?

                What would it be like if intimacy were a part of every friendship and trust was so abounding we forgot how to spell the word?

                What would it be like if you knew every minute of everyday that there were several hundred people that prayed specifically for you that day?

                What would it be like if perfect love filled each heart so much that fear's cold shadow was nowhere to be found among us?

                What would it be like if Satan was the frustrated one, trying all he is worth just to reach the children of God but held a long way off by a wall of love?

                What would it be like if avoiding sin were a reason to gather around each other not to push each other apart?

                What would it be like if mercy was the first thing to come out of our mouths and not gossip?

                What would it be like if the world looked to the church for a definition of friendship not the other way around?

                What would it be like if we were really known as Jesus disciples because of our love for one another?

                What would it be like if sincerity was the order of the day, and falsehood gone from our faces and our words?

                What would it be like if someone's motives were the last thing we had to question?

                What would it be like if Jesus were the reason we went to church?

                What would it be like if Jesus were the reason we went to work?

                What would it be like if Jesus were the reason we took each breath?

                What would it be like?

                What would it be like if we believed that this is what it could be like?


Let your kingdom come.

                Let your will be done.

                As in Heaven so on earth.



Josh Hawkins





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unraveling rambling

Grace is the will, passion, joy of God to magnify the worth of God by enabling sinners to enjoy God without compromising His Glory and Holiness!


Begin with God!

He has infinite, uncompromised, unchangeable, and immutable, worth.  The worth of every other thing only exists in relationship to His worth.  If His worth were devalued or corrupted the whole of the universe would cease to exist because it was made for His worth and because of His worth and through His worth it is sustained.


Sin IS the devaluing of the worth of God.  It is calling God what He is not.  Because God is who and what He is the universe is what it is.  The very existence of all that exists is founded upon and rests on the foundation of the nature and the truth of God as He is.   The word says that all things are, “from Him through Him and to Him”.  It says that He “upholds all things by the Word of his power.”  If His word or His truth were ever falsified or nullified those things upheld by that Word would cease to exist.  That is why sin is so destructive and so hated by God.  It seeks to falsify and nullify God’s Word.  Of course the idea that God could ever be devalued in reality, or corrupted, or His immutable Word falsified or nullified is ridiculous.  It is not a possibility!  God is God and He cannot be changed in any way.  Anything that attempts to do so is almost laughable yet sin still exists.  Why? Because of the grace and for the glory of God it is allowed to exist for a time so that His grace may be revealed and His glory exalted! Romans 9:22 “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory.”  What was it that God desired to do?  “Show his wrath and make known his power.”  It is worth it to God to send people to eternal Hell so that His wrath and power are made known.  If it is worth it to God it should be worth it to US.  His other desire expressed in this passage is, “to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy” So in both ways God is allowing sin to exist for a time so that something of His nature is revealed and He is glorified. The only way He could reveal both His mercy and His wrath are bound up in Jesus and the cross.  Sin and the “devaluing” of His glory CANNOT be allowed to stand they must be answered, but He is also merciful.  How can these two exist simultaneously?  The answer is that God Himself would have to pay the cost to repair the damage done to His own glory.  If God had forgiven sin and left the cost of that sin go unpaid.  Then the devaluing of His glory would have been accomplished and God would NOT have been God.  Since this cannot be, God must always act like Himself, there had to be another way for the price to be paid if God were to forgive sin.  The only one who had the means of paying that price was God Himself, and so He did.  Thereby revealing the fullness of His glory on the cross by both pouring out wrath and releasing mercy.  Oh the beauty of the CROSS!!




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Some thoughts

I think best in type!  Here are some thoughts that might reveal more about what I have been burning about lately.

Loving God more than anything else and, because I love Him, loving others as much as I love myself.

Radical God Centeredness –

            God is real.  He is the most real thing.  His reality and worth should penetrate and permeate EVERY aspect of the life of His people.  Worship should be a life lived out of the fact that God is the most valuable reality we acknowledge.  There is no more valuable one.  We love Him more than we love ourselves.  We treasure and value his infinite worth above all else.  There is no more worthy one.  Our lives exist ONLY to experience, comprehend, display and enjoy the infinite worth of our God.  We do that through a life of righteousness. 


Real Righteousness – defined holistically as “doing the right thing.”  A life characterized by:

Honest Work –

The word of God encourages His people to work.  God gave Adam and Eve a job in the garden.  The Apostle Paul worked as a tentmaker everywhere he went.  Jesus worked in his father’s world of carpentry until He was 30.  The body should be a group of down to earth men and women who live life in the real world of work. Working with our hands to help each other is a big part of this.  Whether it is homemaking or sales, construction or teaching; the people of God should not be about leisure but accomplishment, not about retirement but the release of resource.  Our work does not define us and it is not the sole purpose of our lives but it is God’s way of providing for us and for others through us.

Resource Cultivation and Investment –

God has given all of us resources, whether they are money, talents and abilities, or relationships He has given them to us for the divine purpose of cultivation and investment.  The job of man in paradise was gardening, “Cultivation of the resources to draw out hidden potential and create flourishing.” We are to be about that same task even now.  Being used of God to release the potential from every place we see it.  In each other, in the financial and business world, releasing the wisdom of God to create flourishing all around us in our own lives and the lives of others; all of us utilizing all of our gifts to make the church and the world all around a better place.  Trusting in the power of God to bless our efforts as we align our purposes with His and knowing we cannot do it on our own but are in partnership with Him.

Creativity –

A part of that ethos of work and resource cultivation and investment is the use of the creative facility that God has given to every man and woman.  God has made us creative beings. We must make a concerted effort to release that creativity to the glory of the Lord in ever possible way.  Whether it is through arts of all kinds or new practical ideas; looking at every situation as an opportunity for the release of the wisdom and resource of God through creativity and prayer.

Study of His Word –

God’s word is his primary means His revelation of Himself to man.  If we see God as the most valuable thing, the most treasured one, we will plumb the depths of his word to find the gold and jewels of his beauty that lay hidden there in plain sight.

We read the word to find Jesus:  We desperately need Him.  Joy in the Lord is COMMANDED in scripture!  It is the fuel for life.  The joy of the Lord is our strength.  It is only through the revelation of Himself in scripture that we see, in as much fullness as we can now, the full Glory of Christ and so are filled with “joy inexpressible and filled with glory” 1 Peter1:8

We read the word to find wisdom: His word is full of instruction and wisdom that enables us to live life to the fullest revealing God through our lives as submitted to the wisdom of His word.  That means life done right!  Marriage, Finances, Justice, and Friendship in the kingdom of God should all be walked out submitted to His word.


REAL Worship – Adoration expressed in song other art forms:

We were built to enjoy God. Our enjoyment is not full until it is expressed back to the source of that beauty and outward to all within earshot. The human heart responds to beauty with joy.  This is adoration.  Through song and every other art form we will rejoice in the goodness and glory of the king of kings!  That the world may know how good He is!  Let them taste and see!  Worship and adoration are God and His people celebrating each other.  Let the party begin!

The Lord commands praise and celebration of all that He is. 

            We remember all He has done – and respond in thanksgiving

            We look to His promises for the future – and respond in hope and joy

We see the matchless beauty of His character and His intrinsic worth, His sovereignty, His goodness – and we respond in awe and knee bending worship

Real Connection –

            Nothing about the church should be impersonal.  Nothing about the church should be disconnected.  The pastor is a man not a god.  The power and authority of his sermons should come from the reality of them that people see every other day beside Sunday.  Not because he has it figured out, but because with the Lord’s help he is figuring it out.  He is learning from the Lord in the full view of the church.  Church should be about real people being real and honest with each other at all times; honest about struggles, frustration, pain, joy, sin, victory, loss, and gain.  The power of the Gospel should be seen in every life because every life is open to being seen!

We should weep together and rejoice together because we all value each other as much as we value ourselves.

Real Religion –

            The Bible defines true religion as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, ministry to the sick, and visiting the imprisoned.  Jesus NEVER allowed for a vertical relationship with God that did not flow outward on the horizontal plain of those around us who needed help.  Love your neighbor as yourself was connected 100% with love the Lord your God.  The whole of God’s revelation to man hangs on “these two” Jesus said.  We CANNOT ignore this as a church.  Not just ministry to the poor but to mankind as a whole to each what they need!  To the poor, to the rich, whatever person the Lord puts us in contact with we release the life and resource of Jesus into their lives.





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I am Burning but I like it

I am burning.

The last three weeks of my life have been about burning.  I have had countless seasons like this but as always I am completely consumed with this one.  This one is more dangerous however than the last few.  This time it is accompanied by some kind of release.  Not the release I want.  Not the, go ahead and quit your job and get into the prayer room full time to gaze on my beauty and groan in repentance and intercession all day, release, but the, "I am not just teaching you this so you can learn", release.  He is calling me to respond.  With obedience.  Here is the problem.  What the heck does that look like?  How do I walk this out with wisdom and in love and doing my best not to offend anyone or break fellowship with anyone.  THAT is the hard part. 

I'm sorry, if this isn't making a whole lot of sense. I am being cryptic on purpose.  I can't take the time yet to fully pour out my heart on what is going on because the Holy Spirit is still forming it in me and I don't yet have verbiage for it all.

Jesus is reaching into my heart and changing my whole internal definition of Christianity, and it is painful.  Painful because it looks nothing like my old definition and it grieves me that I could live so long and be so off in so many areas.  Painful because I know that what He is doing in me now is only one more step to becoming like Him and I have a billion times further to go than I have gone.  Please please please don't think that I think I have "arrived" or figured all this out.  I so HAVEN'T.  I've just been confronted again with HOW MUCH I haven't. 

All I know is I cannot continue to be the SAME person.  I cannot continue to live the same way.  I wasn't in sin don't misunderstand what I am saying.  I just cannot live the same way anymore.  All my definitions are changed and to be honest with myself and with what the Holy Spirit is doing in me, I have to change too.  What I do not know yet is how far this change is going to go or what all of the ramifications of it is going to be.  I am willing to go wherever and do whatever the Holy Spirit leads me to do, but I do not yet know what that means.  The majority of the changes are in the way that my life is lived every moment of the day and will not be extremely visible to those that don't do every day with me, but there may be other changes coming down the road that will be far more radical.  I won't speculate as to what they may be.  I just want to hold my life with a very open hand and say "Yes Lord" to whatever He wants to do. The problem is that when you try to do something better than you have been, even when it is JUST ABOUT YOU, you end up offending people.  They see you trying to change and they call it a critique of the way they are living.  They feel judged by it.  That is another reason I don't want to TEACH any of this yet.  That is why I haven't been writing my Blog very often.  Everything I am hearing is beyond me.  Every time I try to explain it I only capture a small part of the massive thing He is doing in me and what I do capture is just a shadow. 


The best I can do is to say that really what is going on in me now is about a change of desires.  Father is teaching me to desire the things He desires.  I don't know enough about these things that He desires to talk about them with any kind of clarity.  I just know that I deeply deeply desire to see them.  Things like justice for the poor.  Things like REAL DEEP HONEST connection one brother or sister with another.  What does it mean when Jesus says "make them one as we are one"?  I just don't know but I know I DON'T HAVE IT and I DESPERATLY desire it.  What does the deepest heart expression of worship mean in the community sense.  How do we come to God together with one voice in prayer in worship?  What is God's will and desire for the market place?  Am I cultivating every area of my life to display the Glory of God through righteous living, giving, resource development and investment, relationships with my fellow Christ followers, relationships with the people of the world?  These are questions I don't have good enough answers for and I want them and of course the biggest question HOW do I do this?  Am I living my life truly deeply based upon loving God the most and everyone else as much as I love myself?  NO NO NO NO NOOOOOOOOOOOO! I'm not.  So HOW???

I'm not content to go on not knowing, and not trying.  I want to hunger and thirst after righteousness.  I can honestly say I am beginning to begin to hunger and thirst after righteousness.  That is my problem.  I am hungering and thirsting after it but I do not have it.  I have hope.  He said "they will be filled"  He meant it.


Oh thank you Jesus you meant it! 


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