“John, take a look at freedom!”

Occasionally God shows you what freedom looks like. If you’re paying attention, it’s more beautiful than a sunrise. It’s soul transformation beaming through human eyes.

Today, I was honored to witness God free his worried, fearful, lonely, grieving, scared, bound, coiled, anxious, tearful, exhausted, and insecure child. All I did was cheer. As the layers unpeeled, they brightened, eased, smiled, bounced, shined; years washed off their face. I don’t remember a transformation so obvious, so instant. 

What made it possible? Trust. Prayer. Safety. Courage. Honesty. Ownership. Confession. Awareness. Desire. Empathy. Calm.

We all wanted it. We all witnessed it. But none more so than the child freed to fly like a released bird from its lonely cage of fear.

Why do I believe in God? Only He could do what I witnessed today.

Photo Credit: Unsplash/Yukari Harada

Justice Must Be Foundational

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; faithful love and truth go before you. Psalms 89:14 CSB
This week I along with some friends completed a youversion reading plan by Dr. Tony Evans answering the question “What is Biblical Justice.”  A couple of thoughts stood out to me:
  • There is no clear and right definition of justice that excludes God.
  • Biblical justice encourages freedom through affirming accountability, equality, and responsibility by linking the spiritual to the social realm.
The last devotional referenced this verse from Psalm 89. I’ve read it many times over the years, but never has its words been more powerful than when considering the topic of justice. The imagery of the throne of God being built on a foundation of justice is transformational. Before fulfilling his mission for which he left that throne, Jesus gifted one last act of justice by caring for the repentant thief, this while dying unjustly. That’s justice found in one’s foundation. As a citizen of God’s kingdom, I must align myself with that foundation. In order for the King to reign in my heart, mind, and soul, justice must be sought and preserved. That’s possible if it’s in my foundation. Photo Credit: Unsplash/Mirko Blicke

3 Questions to Refresh Your Bible Reading

If you’re reading this post, you most likely fit into two categories:

  1. You read the Bible regularly, or at least try, and know that at times you need a “pickmeup.”
  2. You have yet to really figure out how to make Bible reading a thing you do.

Guess what…God knows it and understands. Yet, I’ll paraphrase Max Lucado, God sees where you are but isn’t content to leave you there. So when it comes to Bible reading, God desires for you to enjoy communing with him through his words to you.

Whether you are flowing along completely satisfied in your approach to Bible reading, or if you try one more devotional plan that leads to “failure” you are done with it, or you’re indifferent about it, indulge me to encourage you to consider asking yourself these three questions the next time you open your Bible.

  • Who am I when I approach the Bible?

I’m not suggesting you have to flash your official birth certificate heavenward to remind your Creator that you are his handiwork. He knows you, trust that. But do you know your spiritual identity? What if that’s how you approached the Bible? 

Rather than the father of four who wants out, you are God’s son who needs advice, courage, wisdom. 

Rather than the wife of Mr. Grumpy Pants, you are God’s daughter who needs empathy, forgiveness, patience. 

Rather than the employer who wrestles with growing your business, you are God’s servant who wants direction, guidance, blessing. 

When you open the Bible, what might happen if you engaged it with your heavenly identity over your earthly title?

A note to those in category #2: If your answer to who you are is something like Skeptic, Doubter, Curious, First-Timer, or anything that sounds unacceptable to those church-goers, it’s worth repeating. God knows you. He wrote the Bible for you, too.

  • What question focuses my reading?

Once you’ve landed on who are you, then it’s time to figure out why you are reading the Bible. If your answer is because I’m supposed to, let’s go ahead and admit this-that ain’t cuttin’ it. Legalism leads to exactly where you are.

You have to have a reason with purpose that says, “I know God sees me where I am, and I’m not content staying there either.” With that in mind, word a question that will give your heart and mind direction. 

For example, “As a child of God, what is God saying to me?” Or, “As a follower of Jesus, how does this apply to me today?” Or, “As a believer seeking transformation, what steps of growth are possible?” Or, “As a skeptic, what hope do I see in these words?” Or, “As a first-timer, what can I learn about God?” Or, “As a doubter, how does God show himself?”

Once you’ve worded that question, post it somewhere in your eyesight every time you open your Bible. Maybe it’s on a post-it. Maybe it’s at the top of a notepad. Maybe it’s on your computer screen. Write this question in your heart as well as in your vision.

  • Which part of the Bible allures me?

Now that you know who you are and what question is guiding your heart and mind, here’s where I believe freedom shows up. Your entry into heaven isn’t based on did you read the entire Bible or any other works orientation. Free yourself from any system that enslaves you. If you feel God guiding you to read from Genesis to Revelation, fantastic. But if you find yourself stuck in the dull drums, give yourself the freedom to sit as long as you want where you are getting the most from it. God isn’t abusive. He may be corrective as a Good Father and Shepherd, but when you know who you are and why you’re reading his word, all his words can fulfill you. Choose to read where God leads you and feast as long as you want.

One last note for those in Category #2: If you don’t know how to answer this question, here’s a suggestion. Go to the New Testament and try one of the first four books. Most people like to start with the Gospel of John.

God promised that when we seek him we will find him. May these questions assist you in finding God.

(This post was prompted by a coaching session. If you have yet to receive the benefits of a coaching relationship in your life, let this be a testament to what’s possible.)

“Stayer” or “Walker”

This is one of those books that you could read many times and grow each time. This being my first read, I’m already seeing growth.

Here’s a quote that stuck out to me today:

If you stay free from offense, you will stay in the will of God.

Offense is easy to create and to receive. Bevere declares it’s a trap, the bait of Satan. When we take the bait, we are in for some rough going. Been there, done that.

This quote makes something clear-where we stay has much to do with our freedom and peace, our relationship with God and others. Where we stay is entirely up to us. If we choose to stay close to God, we will choose to stay free from offense. If we choose to stay offended, we choose to not stay, to distance ourself, to walk away from God and what he’s working in and for us.

Simply put, here’s a new mantra based on this quote: I’d rather be a “stayer” with God than a “walker” from God. In allowing God to search my heart, it’s clear I have an offense that requires a better choice. Time to give up the bait.

You taken the bait? Ready to give it up?

4 Truths about God’s Promises 

(This post came across my FB feed today from 2015. Based on Joshua 14:6-14.)

Someone should make a movie about Joshua and Caleb. I’ve always imagined they were buds, but who really knows. Not sure if their families shared manna together, but they are linked in the story of their nation.

Here, Caleb illustrates what it means to be totally with God. Not only was he faithful in his task at age 40, he also managed to stick to his guns for 45 more years.

At age 85, he reminds Joshua what happened on their first visit to the land which they now possessed. God spoke to him through Moses that his faithfulness would be rewarded.  Still as strong as at age 40, he was ready to receive the fulfillment of God’s promise.

Through Caleb’s life, we can see these truths about how to live in the light of God’s promise:

  1. God’s promise is worth your lifelong surrender.
  2. God keeps His promises, even if it takes your lifetime.
  3. God’s promise doesn’t give you freedom to do whatever you want while you wait. Remain totally His.
  4. Your family could also live in the light of God’s promise because of your willingness to be totally His. Worth it?

Be You

There’s only one you. Be you.

God created one you. Be you.

God knows you because he created you. Be you.

God knows you better than you know you. Be you.

God doesn’t need you to be like someone else. Be you.

God didn’t create you to be like someone else. Be you.

God created you exactly the way you are. Be you.

God created you exactly how he wanted you. Be you.

God loves you as you are. Be you.

God knows your flaws. Be you.

God wants to share life with you. Be you.

God will never reject you. Be you.

God wants the best for you. Be you.

God wants more for you than you can comprehend. Be you.

God watches your every move. Be you.

God celebrates your wins. Be you.

God mourns your losses. Be you.

God offers you freedom. Be you.

God has mercy for your mistakes. Be you.

God has grace for your oddities. Be you.

God will take you back. Be you.

God desires to give you your heart’s desires. Be you.

God enjoys the one and only you. Be you.

Indifference: Get Some

My goal in preparing my heart for planning and decision making is to remain in a state Ignatius of Loyola referred to as indifference. By indifference, he does not mean apathy or disinterest. He simply means we must become indifferent to anything but the will of God. Ignatius taught that the degree to which we are open to any outcome or answer from God is the degree to which we are ready to really hear what God has to say. If we are clutching or overly attached to one outcome versus another, we won’t hear God clearly. Our spiritual ears will be deafened by the racket of our disordered loves, fears, and attachments. In such a state, it is almost a forgone conclusion that we will confuse our will with God’s will. Ignatius considered this state of indifference to be spiritual freedom. If we are truly free, he argued, we wouldn’t worry about whether we are healthy or sick, rich or poor. It shouldn’t even matter whether we have a long life or a short one…Arriving at this place of interior indifference and trusting that God’s will is good — no matter the outcome — is no small task. We are attached to all kinds of secondary things — titles, positions, honors, places, persons, security, and the opinions of others. When these attachments are excessive, they become disordered attachments, or disordered loves, that push God out of the center of our life and become core to our identity. (The Emotionally Healthy Leader, Peter Scazzero, p195-196)

With this definition of indifference, here are some practical questions to test your indifference:

  1. If you’re unmarried, are you indifferent towards God’s marital plans for you?
  2. If you’re a parent, are you indifferent to God’s future for your children?
  3. If you’re a leader, are you indifferent to God’s vision for your business/ministry/home?
  4. If you’re close to retiring, are you indifferent to God’s next for you?
  5. If you’re in high school or college, are you indifferent to God’s career path for you?
  6. If you’re employed, are you indifferent to waiting on God for a promotion, recognition, or pay increase?
  7. If you’re unemployed, are you indifferent to God’s timing?
  8. If you’re unhappy, are you indifferent to what God offers as the way to joy?

If you don’t have indifference, what would it take to get some?