Friday, March 2, 2012

Why I love the rain...

Let me see if I can paint the picture... I'd say to close your eyes, but you're reading, so just imagine as you read.

The quickly dimming light of an overcast evening sneaks through the gaps of the dark brown curtains hanging on the wall. Cars pass by, almost incessantly, outside, splashing through puddles growing larger with each drop that falls. On occasion, the soft patter of raindrops crashing full speed into the window provide a punctuated beat to the continual drone of traffic outside. I sit, reclined, in an old blue computer chair, with a well-maintained but visibly well-loved guitar across my lap. Eyes closed, I strum chords, pluck strings, swaying to and fro with the rise and fall of the sound. Sometimes, words will escape my heart, make their way to my mouth, and spring forth in a hushed voice. Other times, a simple hum is all I muster. Songs never end, nor do new ones begin--they simply intertwine--becoming a perpetual symphony that permeates my cozy room.

I love a rainy day. Not always. I'm not packing my things to move to the Pacific Northwest anytime soon, but I do love a good rainy day here and there. There's something peaceful... something cleansing about the rain... something organic. It reminds me of how little power I wield. Can I tell the rain to stop? Sure, I can try, but to no avail. It reminds me of my place, it humbles me.

It brings me peace. The random patter of drops on the window and the splash of cars outside provides an accompanying soundtrack that other evenings fail to offer. Paired with the ringing chords of a guitar, there are few things that sound better.

That, is why I love the rain. However, I must cut this short, the rain is requesting I join in song again.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


It's funny how conviction works...

People like conviction, yet at the same time, people don't like it.

Conviction is hard. It's painful. It's a punch in the nose. I like to call it a sucker punch of grace. And I desperately need it. I need it all too often.

I used to think that when I finished up college and moved into the real world, it'd be easier. Sin wouldn't be as big a problem, I'd have more time to spend with Jesus... oh how far from the truth that is. The real world is hard--if anything, it's harder. There's more temptations, more responsibilities, more things to prioritize.

In a blink, I can be miles from where I thought I was and it takes a sucker punch of grace, usually in the form of conviction, to bring me back to my senses.

Thanks be to God that he loves me enough to do that.

I think of how hard it is to confront friends with an issue. You know, when a roommate's music is too loud, or they slam doors in the wee hours of the morning? Maybe it's just my personality type, but I struggle with even that minor of a confrontation. Praise the Lord he does not hesitate to confront me. Praise the Lord he loves me enough to convict me.

He uses all forms of communication too. Just this morning, I read Psalm 1:1-2. Have you ever read Psalm 1 before? I don't think I ever had. With all the Psalms out there, why pick the first one?
"Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night."
-Psalm 1:1-2 (ESV)
Boom. That was the conviction I needed.

Do I walk in the counsel of the wicked? Yeah, but not all the time...
Do I stand in the way of sinners? Yeah, but I'm not that bad...
Do I sit in the seat of scoffers? Yeah, but I don't always do that...
Do I delight in the law of the Lord? Well, sometimes?
Do I meditate on the law day and night? Well, you see... no.

That was the sucker punch of grace I needed. God hit me right on the nose. It wasn't fun, but discipline isn't always fun. I can try and negotiate my way around that Scripture all I want, but I'm only negotiating my way around a flawless and perfect God. Who am I to tell God what his law says? When I shortchange Scripture, I shortchange my faith.

There's a two-step process from here. Acknowledgement and repentance.

Step one, acknowledge that I've failed (miserably) and fallen short of this command. Step two, come to the Lord in prayer and repent. The Greek word for repentance is μετάνοια pronounced "meta-noi-ya". It means a physical turning away from sin and towards God.

And, I guess there's a step three, accept grace. It doesn't do me any good to wallow in self pity. I can sit there and pity myself all day long, but that is just depressing and not productive. Grace is awesome. John Mark McMillan sings in one of his songs, "If his grace is an ocean, we're all sinking" and I love the imagery that portrays.

However, Paul cautions us about grace...
"What then shall we say? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin continue to live in it?"
-Romans 6:1-2 (ESV, emphasis added)
It's as simple as that. I've died to sin, I am a new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17), so how can I continue to live the life I've died to? It's easy, I cannot.

But, it is hard. And that's why his grace is an ocean. There's never an end. There's no bottom. It will never run out. And in that, there is comfort. There is hope. There is peace.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I've always struggled with the idea of prayer.

I'm not entirely sure why.

I've fallen captive to this instant gratification society that we live in. I have a smart phone, I have FiOS, I have a laptop... everything around me is about speed. Send a tweet, post a status, check my email, watch a Youtube video.

What! I have to wait 10 seconds for this video to load? Ridiculous.

Being a product of this instant society--this always-on culture--I struggle with waiting.

When I pray, I want an instant response. I want to know that: a) God heard my prayer, and b) He's already acting on it. It's hard for me to wait. It's hard. I think this is what I struggle with most when it comes to prayer.

I'm so used to a world of notification. A buzz in my pocket, a pop-up on my screen, a little red 1 when I log in... When I pray, I don't always get that instant feedback. In fact, most times, I don't get any feedback at all.

However, that's not the important part. God notes that He hears prayer. He says so in His word... numerous times. For example, in Luke 11, Jesus is teaching on prayer. He says:
"And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened." - Luke 11:9-10
In James 5, James writes about the "prayer of faith". He writes that the prayer of faith is powerful! He goes as far to say:
The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. - James 5:16b
How awesome is that? And those are just two of the countless examples of God working through prayer. Rather than get caught up in instant gratification, I need to get caught up in truth. The truth is, God works through prayer. He hears prayer and He acts on it.

This doesn't insinuate that there are things God can't do if we don't pray. That would limit His sovereignty and omnipotence. That would be a false statement. God doesn't need us to pray. However, I certainly believe He wants us to. He wants us to pray according to His will. In 1 John 5:14, we can read:
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. - 1 John 5:14-15
That's the answer right there. I love those verses. I love how simple it is. I don't have to think back far to see how God has answered prayer in my life. It's not always fast, it's not always on my timing, but it happens...Prayer in alignment with God's will happens. That is awesome.

Monday, December 5, 2011


I'm reading a book.

It's called Man - The Dwelling Place of God by A.W. Tozer.

In this book, Tozer writes about the incredible fact that man is the dwelling place of God. How awesome is that? I've been blown away by the ideas that Tozer presents and the earnest heart that he writes with. He writes with passion, with energy, with a sincere desire that his reader reads.

In this book, he quotes a woman who lived in 14th century England by the name of the Lady Julian of Norwich. I've never been so struck by a quote from someone I've never heard of before. The quote reads:
"O God, please give me three wounds; the wound of contrition and the wound of compassion and the wound of longing after God. This I ask without condition."
Take a breath... there's a lot packed in those two short but poignant sentences.

The wound of contrition...
The wound of contrition... what exactly is that? In this context, it is a sense that I personally crucified Jesus. My sin was the reason he was nailed on the cross. My sin was the reason he suffered.

A wound of contrition is a presence of mind that recognizes our position before God. We were guilty. There's no flowery language. There's no maybe this maybe that. There's no if's and's or but's.

The beauty is we've been redeemed. We've been declared not guilty. Through repentance and faith, we have been set free. Romans 5:1 states: "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." The gavel has been struck. The verdict is in. We are NOT GUILTY! However, a contrite spirit recognizes the grace associated with this verdict. I don't deserve it. I'm not entitled. I'm not worthy... yet, He makes it so.

The wound of compassion...
The wound of compassion is more straightforward; yet, is not easy in practice. Tozer writes, "The man who has this wound of compassion is a man who suffers along with other people."

I know for a fact that is not easy for me. I struggle with feelings. I struggle with emotions. I'm sure some of that is being a guy, but I think some of it is my human nature. Most days, my primary concern is me. It's sad, but it's true. Christ is the perfect example of compassion. He has been tempted. He knows what you're going through. He has every reason to not be compassionate though; yet, in His love for us, He chooses to be compassionate.

Do I suffer along with my coworkers? Do I suffer along with my housemates? With my parents? The guy on the street corner holding a cardboard sign asking for change?

Compassion is easy to understand. It is so hard to practice. It requires us to shift our perspective from inward to outward. It requires us to stop looking in and start looking out.

The wound of longing after God...
The idea of a wound expounds the idea of pain. To pray this is to ask for a pain, a discomfort, a hurting for God.

The idea of longing carries with it the idea of a perpetual journey. A heart that longs after God is a heart that is never content. It is never satisfied with the present situation. A heart that longs after God is a heart that seeks Him daily. Its sole (and soul) desire is to know God--to experience His presence--and to grow.

I struggle with longing after God. I too often find myself longing for knowledge. I love learning. I love studying. However, this love sometimes tries to replace my longing for God. I think I can satisfy this longing through study, through learning. I think that if I learn one more fact about God, I'll be satisfied... but to what end?

I need a wound in my heart that is lovesick for God. It doesn't want one more fact... it seeks to simply want God.

This simple prayer is bookended by perhaps a sentence that carries just as much meaning as the first.

"This I ask without condition."

Another way of saying this would be, "I don't care what it takes, God. I want this badly enough that I give you permission to use any means necessary." There's trust in this prayer. There is faith in this prayer.

I want this level of faith. I want this level of trust. I've started praying for three wounds. I have no doubt that God will come through. I'm ready.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Now I know what you're thinking... you came here expecting a post on Einstein's general theory of relativity. Sorry to disappoint, but we can save that for another time. This post; however, is one on the relativism of truth.

What is truth?

Is it absolute?

What makes a statement true?

Well, let's see... what is truth? Webster defines truth as: "the property (as of a statement) of being in accord with fact or reality." Okay, that is acceptable. So to have truth, we need facts or reality to compare our statements against.

Is it absolute? Well, I think there are absolute truths. The sky is blue. That is a statement in accord with fact or reality. I can look at the sky and see blue (assuming it's not cloudy). When I drop an object, it will always fall. Another absolute truth that I can observe by picking up the pen on my desk and dropping it. Even if I drop it one million times, it will never once float in the air when I let go and hover miraculously. The truth of the matter is, it will always fall.

What makes a statement true? This one tends to be a little bit tricky. As Webster defined truth, we need fact or reality to compare this statement to. By looking at reality and gathering facts, we can assess statements as being truthful or false. For example, suppose I say to you, "The sun revolves around the earth." You could disprove this statement by showing me models of the solar system that prove the planets revolve the sun. You could explain to me how gravity works. You could show me other solar systems where planets are revolving their sun. In essence, you prove my statement false by looking at reality, gathering facts, and presenting them in a way that makes an indisputable, absolute truth.

Now, suppose I say to you, "Truth is relative." How would you respond?

But wait a second... haven't I just made an absolute truth statement? By saying truth is relative, I'm implying--absolutely-- that all truth is relative. It's a false argument. I disprove my own statement.

At my church this morning, we discussed truth as we begin our study in the Gospel of Luke. The culture we currently live in loves relative truth. We hate to think that someone else is wrong. We would hate to be looked at as intolerant. However... as we've just discovered, truth cannot be relative. There must be absolutes. There must be facts and statements about reality that are absolutely true.

Luke writes in his account of the Gospel:
"Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught." - Luke 1:1-4
Luke writes this account so that Theophilus, likely a Roman official, might have "certainty".

What am I certain of? Am I certain that if I drop my pen, it will fall to the ground? Am I certain that the sky is blue? Am I certain that Jesus' death paid the penalty of sin?

Sometimes it's easier to be more certain about some things than others. As we discussed earlier, I can always drop my pen and watch it fall. I can always peek out the window and marvel at the blue sky (not now though, it's dark). But how can I be certain that Christ is who he says he is?

Well, as a matter of fact, I can peek inside my Bible and see that indeed, Christ is who he says he is. I accept the Bible as truth because it is comprised of statements and facts in accordance with reality. Romans 3:23 states: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God". That is an observable fact. I can look at the world and see sin. I can see that no person is perfect. I can see that each has fallen short.

Because the Bible is composed of absolute truth, this truth is absolute--in Romans 5:8 Paul writes, "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

I love truth... and that is a true statement.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Heartbreaker, you got the best of me...

Let's just get this out and on the table... I am terrible at keeping up with this. And yes, that is a Mariah Carey song reference in the title.

Okay, that aside... let's get down to business (to defeat the Huns).

My pastor posed the question at church on Sunday... "What does your heart weep for?"

I wish I could answer that. I feel like there's times I could list of tons of things and give a great answer, but most of the time (right now) I'm drawing blanks. What does my heart weep for? What breaks my heart? What keeps me up at night?

At the church I've started attending, Portico Arlington, we have been studying the book of Jonah. If you haven't read the book of Jonah, do it right now... pause the blog reading and read Jonah. It's 4 chapters of about 10 verses each but it is incredible! Shoot, even if you have read it, stop what you're doing and read it anyways--it is worth your time.

Anyways, that aside, we are studying Jonah and throughout this book, the reader is given a striking picture of Jonah's heart compared to God's heart. If two things were ever opposite, they would be Jonah's heart compared to God's heart. Long story short, the book ends with Jonah angry and sitting outside a city where he just witnessed 120,000 people repent and return to God.

Jonah's heart is weeping for his circumstances. He is mad about his situation. He is mad that God's grace extended to his enemies. He is mad that they didn't get what they deserved.

God's heart is weeping for the lost. He is weeping for Jonah's hard heart. He is weeping for the 120,000 people who repented of sin and put their faith in Him. He is rejoicing because they didn't get what they deserved.

What a stark contrast.

Isn't it so easy to sit back and look at Jonah with judgement? It's easy to sit back and say, "Man, if I were in his position, I would have been so much better!" or "I'm better than that! I would never be so self-centered."

Oh if only that were true.

Sadly it's not... I know I'm tragically self-centered. I wake up and the first thing I do is think about what I am going to wear to work. What am I going to look like? What am I going to eat for lunch? My whole world revolves around me! I'm just like Jonah! My heart weeps for my circumstances! "Ah, I got stuck in traffic today!" "Ah, my milk went bad and I couldn't have cereal for breakfast." "Ah, work was so busy!"

God's heart weeps for so much more than that. His heart weeps for the lost people I drive by as I commute to work. His heart weeps for my coworkers who don't know Him.

To zoom out and see the bigger picture--to step outside what my own eyes and heart focuses on--and turn my eyes on what God sees would be an incredible experience. I don't expect it to happen immediately (if it does, that is fine by me) but I expect it to happen. Each day, I want to focus less on myself and more or others. There's so much at stake... there's eternity at stake.

My heart should weep for that.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


My how the time flies.

I remembered the other day that I used to blog on the regular... so, I logged in and was shocked to see the last time I wrote anything was over a month ago!

What have I been doing?

Surprisingly, I would say I've been doing quite a lot.

I moved to a new city. I made new friends. I started a job. I got a paycheck. I bought groceries (more than once). I ate groceries... the list goes on!

In all seriousness, life has been very different, but in some ways strangely similar. I'm living in the "city" for the first time in my life. Say what you want, but a town of 40,000 is not a city. It's a town. Move to the metro region and you realize how many people there really are. However, I've had the amazing opportunity to live with three guys who love the Lord and push me to know him better every day. I've been checking out a church and getting involved there and that has been a blessing and a half. I've been working 40 hour weeks for the first time in many years.

Different, yet similar.

Maybe you're like me and you have all these ideas of what life is going to look like at some point in your future. You have a general picture of what you'll be doing, where you'll be living, who you'll know... but if there's one thing I've found is true, I really had no idea at all. Yes, there are things I did know, but on the whole, I could have never guessed what my life would be like.

The moral of the story is, don't settle. Don't assume that your picture of life to come is how it will be. Maybe you're super stoked about your future. Maybe you've got a sweet job lined up, some awesome roommates, a significant other you plan on marrying... don't settle. Maybe it's a different story. Maybe you're not that excited about your future. Maybe it's totally uncertain, you are moving to a whole new place, you don't have a job lined up, you're moving back home... don't settle.

The worst thing you can do is assume that what you think will happen is exactly how it will be. In my extremely limited years on this earth, I can tell you that it will be nothing like you think. God will blow you out of the water time and time again if you let Him. He will give you people to pour into and to be poured into by. He will give you a church (physical building and body of believers). He will provide for you--for you are his beloved.

I've lived in the "real world" now for about a month exactly. It's been hard at times, but man, it has been so good. God wants us to rely on him. When we do, we open up so many opportunities to let Him work. I don't think the verse goes: "Lean sometimes on your own understanding..."


It reads: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." (emphasis added)

I write this post for myself. Maybe you're going through something similar. Maybe you will be in a few years. Maybe you already have... but any way, Proverbs 3:5 holds true.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding." - Proverbs 3:5