May 23, 2011


Have you noticed the themes that God writes across our lives? Do you have those reminders that He has etched on your heart by constantly going back to a single principle?

I do. Such as now when He asks, "Do you trust Me?"
When questions and worries pile up I pour out my 'need' for decisive answers to the Lord and His only response is. "Do you trust Me?"
When the answer to every prayer is still and always, constantly, "Do you trust Me?"
When my faith is 3 feet high and asked to face my soul's giant, "Do you trust Me?"
When my strength is gone, my purpose shattered and all I want to do is crawl into the dark and cry, "Do you trust Me?"
Day after day, moment upon confusing moment, "Do you trust Me?"
When the voice thundering over the "why's" speaks, "Do you trust Me?"
Every comforting word softly queries, "Do you trust Me?"
Every Scripture asks the same, "Do you TRUST Me?"

Every rock that would cry out, every sunrise full of promise, every gust of wind on my face it would seem is intent on hearing the answer - on commanding me to answer the weightiest of questions, "Do you trust Him?"
Even the smallest sparrow and each delicate lily asks me, "Do you trust Him?"
The heroes of the ages, the great crowd of witnesses seems to wonder from the pages of history and the Bible, "Do you trust Him?"
The altars I have built in the past on His faithfulness scream to me in my memory, asking, "Do you trust Him?"

So I wonder...DO I trust Him?

My thoughts drift over my life and situations and remember the times He has acted. Over and over, circumstance building upon circumstance, crowding to my vision, crying in my ears, memories show me the answer. Reminders in the pages of my journal, on the margins of my Bible, on the pictures on my wall, on the lives of the people I have met, in every nook and cranny of my own life I see it written plainly so I cannot escape it even if I tried. He HAS been faithful!!!
Logic and faith come together, memory and hope meet and each proclaims, "He CAN be trusted!"

So now the only question left is this..."WILL I trust Him?" I have to answer that now...and I will need to answer in 5 minutes, when I lie on my pillow tonight, tomorrow, the next day, each day, moment by moment, situations at a time, when I can't see the way, in joy, in pain, in darkness, in daytime, in the worst circumstance I can imagine, when my strength fails, when I am worried, anxious confused.........the question will remain to be answered every time I draw a breath, "Will I trust Him?"

It has me wondering.

But I think of the promise that my head WILL be lifted up,that this journey will make sense as I survey it at its close, that daybreak ALWAYS follows night, that there is a reason for THIS season and it IS NECESSARY for my life, that I am more than a conqueror, that I am an heir with Christ, that I am beloved, cherished, safe, sung over, sheltered, carried, free.

So ask again, Lord, that glorious question! Ask again if I trust You.
I will look You in the eye with a smile of anticipated triumph and declare with all my heart, soul, mind, and STRENGTH, clearly and loudly enough for my enemy and circumstance to be forewarned......
"YES! I trust You.

May 4, 2011

The Mark of Discipleship

John 13:35 “By this will all men know that you are my disciples, by your love for one another.”

Love is the defining mark of a Christian, the outward symbol they bear so that all will know who they follow.
Throughout the ages men are always recognized by certain rites or characteristics to distinguish what teacher it is they follow. Jesus defined the acceptable characteristic His followers were to portray. Deep, selfless, divine love.
If He taught us the mark of discipleship in that verse He went even further in John 15:13 by describing who the closest most dedicated follower of His would be, “
Greater love has no man than this than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
To be a follower of Christ we must love. To be the most excellent follower we must lay down everything for others.

Love is the characteristic we are to pursue with everything as we learn to be disciples, but we must know what love looks like.

This word Jesus used is, in the Greek, “
agape” meaning: divine, self-sacrificing, active, loyal, and thoughtful love; love that is both voluntary and unconditional.
It is this love that God pours out on us. It is the love we receive in His presence, at His feet, in being cherished by the Father that designed us, the Savior that ransomed us, and the Spirit that comforts us.

Truly, this is a perfect mark of a disciple of Christ because this love cannot be obtained any other place but from Christ Himself. Because it is so far removed the naturally occurring love of humans (marked by selfishness and ambition) it obviously springs from God. God is the fountainhead of this sort of love; it cannot be obtained from any other source nor maintained by any other influence.

We see in 1 Corinthians 13 a true depiction of what this love looks like so we can be sure to recognize it and can take care to live it.

Love is patient. A disciple of Christ is forbearing. The love they carry endures long after any lesser virtue has departed. They can afford to be patient because they have far-reaching vision that sees beyond the present circumstance into the future potential of the loved one. They are willing to wait any length of time for maturity in the loved one to be formed, and they allow maturity to be worked in their own life while they wait.

Love is kind. Notice how kindness is linked to patience in 1 Corinthians 13:4. A disciple not only endures, but he maintains the disposition and actions of kindness while he endures. He does not passively wait, but actively encourages and serves despite any contrary action on the part of the loved one as he waits for maturity to be completed.

Love does not envy. A true disciple does not covet the affections of another. He has so forgotten himself in the process of loving that he doesn’t notice if the other person does not give back care in kind. Every ounce of attention is caught up in the concern for others that he has none left to use on himself.
Not that the disciple wants for affection; on the contrary, as he pours out every bit of love within himself he merely opens up room for God to pour back into him.
The disciple that loves finds himself satisfied with the love of the Lord and will never be discontent or lacking.

Love does not parade itself. A disciple doesn’t look for attention or gratitude for his love. He is willing to come under others to lift them up. He is consistent in his actions because there is no conflict of interest within his own heart.

Love is not puffed up. A disciple recognizes that all he has was given by God and he can take no credit for who he is or what he does. He has a true and realistic view of himself, and walks humbly because of it. He realizes that he has been forgiven much and so he loves much. A disciple takes no pride in his ability to love, but is like an ever-rushing stream, pouring out without pause and distributing without thought to himself.

Love does not behave rudely. A disciple never acts out of place or character. There is a wisdom and circumspectness that accompanies true love. If a disciple will give himself to the loving others he will find that his manners will become more appropriate; that the knowledge of how to act in certain situations is available; that his behavior becomes a comfort and delight to those around him. Why? It is because he is again thinking only of others. He notices when a word disturbs them or when an action embarrasses them. His attention is fixed on their face so that every emotion that flits across it is perceived and cherished and he is able to base his own actions accordingly. This is not to be confused with a fear of man, however. A fear of man has its roots in pride and is concerned with its own reputation. Love is partner to humility and is concerned only with the reputation of others.

Love does not seek its own. A disciple is not concerned with his own happiness and security, but also with that of others. This is the thing that causes a disciple to be an evangelist. This love is not content with be saved only, but then seeks to bring others to the same great salvation.
This is also the love that resists the work of evil in others and between relationships. Envy and self-seeking foster confusion and every evil work (James 3:16), but this self-forgetting love destroys both.

Love is not provoked. How easily we assume that with familiarity must also come irritation. It is the way of the world to treat those we are closest to with a level of contempt and carelessness. After all “they know us”…how well they know the true us. We expect those we love to excuse our bad days or our foolish moods as if it is our due.
Yet, the love of a disciple is one that so values the life and feelings of others that it allows itself no bad days. It nurtures no irritation; it will not act on aggravation. It extends infinite grace to other people and requires none in return. This love is merciful…and so, it will be shown the mercy of God.

Love thinks no evil. A disciple is not suspicious or mistrusting. He does not read into the actions of others nor expect wrong motives. Even if the other person behaves obviously wrongly the disciple still tends carefully to dreams of the who the loved one has the capacity to become. No, this love is not delusional, it observes flaws and sinfulness and judges correctly, but it has the incredible ability to separate the person from sin. This they have learned from Jesus Himself, the One that died to destroy the sin and save the sinner.
A disciple is vulnerable without fear. After all, if they have died to themselves already what do they have to fear.

Love…does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things’ is how the list goes on…and on…and on…because, you see, love never fails. There is no end to its practice, and the disciple will always be learning how to love more perfectly.

Love is the law of the Kingdom of God and so lack of love is lawlessness (rebellion). If the disciple ever stops loving, he will cease to be a disciple and cut himself off from being able to receive the love of God. All other qualities will become mere form and hypocrisy without love for God and love for others, and this is why love must continue. As Adam Clarke put it, “
[Love] is the means of preserving all other graces; indeed, properly speaking, it includes them all; and all receive their perfection from it.”

You, who desire to be disciples, love.
Pursue love. Learn it in prayer, observe it in the Word of God, and practice it in daily life. Let it change and transform you. Allow love to alter your very personality; allow nothing into your life that would be contrary to love. I pray as Paul did “…
that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

May 2, 2011

A Prayer

Lord, I ask not for an eloquent tongue, but for a pure heart
Not for great wit, but for abounding forgiveness
Not for matchless beauty, but for true character
And not for a long life, but for a life well-lived in the will of God