on the subject of “costly grace”:
“grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow Him; it is grace because Jesus says: ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light.'” – dietrich bonhoeffer
on the subject of “costly grace”:
“grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow Him; it is grace because Jesus says: ‘My yoke is easy and my burden is light.'” – dietrich bonhoeffer
when a bunch of friends and i get together and just hang out, sometimes we play a game called “questions only.” it is a game where the players have to keep a legit conversation going using only questions. many times, we are laughing too hard to continue the game. it’s loads of fun. (adding accents from famous celebrities makes it all the funner)
i have spent the last three parts of theTAGseries (the “thinking about God” series) talking about the need and necessity of building a life centered around the knowledge of God…who He is, what He is like and what we are to do with that knowledge. now in these next few parts, i am going to give some very practical things to do…in order.
the first thing i want to discuss are questions. questions? questions! (sorry…i was looking at how many times i could use the same word with different punctuation…lol) i believe one of the key problems why we do not get true revelation of who God is…is because of pride. now many people would say “duh”, but when asked to explain, they would just mention that we are somehow arrogant…and sinful…so it blocks us from God. basically, they would give a trite answer. and that’s exactly the problem! i know in the past in my life, i have been so arrogant in thinking about God…i always have the answer for every thought…or at least i think i do. but if God’s ways are so above ours and His thoughts far higher than ours…then why do i think i know the answer to anything that He has not told me. (ouch)
you see, there are many questions in the Bible, and when we read it…they still are questions! that’s how God left it. He didn’t give us another book called “the answer key to the Bible” (commonly called the book of mormon or the watchtower magazine). He left them unanswered…so that we would ask Him questions about questions. when the Bible says “who is like You among the gods?”…it’s not a trite question that deserves a trite answer. i wrote once about thinking “who can compare to You?”. i was arrogant at first, thinking i knew the answer…but when i took time to ask the question to God…He blew my mind away with His answer. (that would be part1: grace)
the questions in the Bible are meant to stir up questions and thoughts about God in our “new mind of Christ”. in fact, the final chapters of job and proverbs 30 are filled with questions just to ponder and ask God on. here are some examples:
“have you entered the storehouses of the snow or have you seen the storehouses of hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war?” job 38:22-23
imagine that! we are taught in science class that snow and hail “just happen” cause of certain elements and mixtures happening. but where does everything originally come from? according to God, He has storehouses…BARNS (!!) full of snow and hail! when it snows or hails too long or erradically..weather forecasters say that it’s a “weather phenomenon”…but really, God is holding open the doors to “the barn” longer than normal. ALSO, if you read revelation…massive hail will fall across the earth (rev ch8) and according to this verse in job…God already has it stored up for that day. (what!!! lol) we think (in our pride) we know (scientifically) how everything works….but just ponder on that verse.
“who has gathered the wind in his fists?” proverbs 30:4b
i haven’t. bono hasn’t. president bush hasn’t. steve jobs hasn’t. (blasphemy i know…lol) i can’t even SEE the wind, much less hold it. but here God is saying that not only can He see where it is to catch it, He also has the power to gather it (like wheat) and clinch it in His fists!
did you ever feel awkward teaching Him how He created the world?
what did He and his cousin john talk about as kids?
did the thought ever occur to you that the God to Whom you were praying was asleep under your own roof?
what was it like watching Him pray?
did He ever come home with a black eye?
what was He like at a funeral?
did you ever think, That’s God eating my soup?
it’s time we start thinking ABOUT God instead of answering FOR God things only He can answer. i challenge you to find a question in the Bible and stop and think about it. ask God about it. see what He thinks about the question He asked in the Bible. you could even think of things from non-question scriptures, like “in the beginning, God…” (gen 1:1) and just stop right there and think about where God came from if He was there in the very beginning. yes it makes your head hurt! that’s proof it’s working! (i think we have allowed ourselves to remain ignorant and stupid by not thinking of things like this) it’s impossible to understand the eternity of God, but you’ll start applying the brain He gave all of us to good use. ask Him what He thinks about where He came from.
there is more on this that i will cover in the next part of theTAGseries, but this should keep us all busy for now. feel free to leave comments if this has helped, if you have questions for me or if you have some feedback about the questions you have been asking God. it’s great to encourage others about the revelations (the simple answers to your questions) God is giving you!
let’s start playing “questions only” with God! 🙂
“i didn’t have enough time…”
how many times have you heard that line? how many times have you SAID that line? i think we are all guilty at one time or another (or all the time…lol) for saying that. if the truth be told, i think most of us don’t even know a person who has learned how to control their time; someone who doesn’t have to work for time…but time works from them. if we do know a person like that (i know a few), we esteem them to a high and lofty place and honor them for achieving the “impossible”.(small note: james says that taming your tongue is the hardest thing to do…not taming your time) but God has equipped and enabled ALL of us to control our time properly…to make the best use of every minute.
why am i talking about this? why when it comes to “thinking about God” is time such a big issue? there are two reasons why time is such a key to thinking about God:
1. God calls for patience and persistence.
yes, the almighty merciful God refuses to work at the split second when it comes to our lives. He chooses not to act immediately. i’m not saying He doesn’t care or does it just to annoy us. God wants us to learn patience and longsuffering in the place of prayer, finances (etc) AND in questioning/thinking about Him. if He wanted to, He could dump all the knowledge of who He is into our spirits and we could live the rest of our lives like that. but (to borrow the phrase) “what we get to easily, we esteem to lightly” and knowledge of Him is to be taken very seriously. He desires us to search Him out. to spend hours, days, weeks and months on end over questions related to who He is.
here in america we do not understand staying focused and persistent on a single issue. last friday i went to chikfila and had to listen to a family complain on how slow the service was (app. 10 mins). we are so used to a fast food, microwave, in and out, over and done with in 2 minutes sort of world. but god refuses to live there. being God, He dwells outside of time! the Bible declares that to God “a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are like a day to Him”. He lives and works from a place of eternity, which is unbound by worldly restrictions such as time.
and He told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “in a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. and there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘give me justice against my adversary’. for a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming’.” and the Lord said, “hear what the unrighteous judge says. and will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? will he delay long over them? I tell you, He will give justice to them speedily.” – luke 18:1-7
Jesus tells His disciples a story of the widow and the unjust judge. the point of the story is to encourage His disciples to “cry out to Him day and night”. and to those who do “He will give justice (answers) to them speedly.” the reason why we don’t get answers quickly from God is we are not making the time and persistently asking Him questions. we ask once and then blame God when He doesn’t answer (like He ever has to). patience and longsuffering are not just fruit of the Spirit…they are fruit of seeking God consistantly. therefore…
2. God rewards those who spend their time wisely.
i already talked about God granting answers to those who are before Him in a persistent way. but i wanted to highlight (once again) that thinking and questioning God takes a severe amount of time…more time than living a life not thinking about God. it takes more effort to live wisely (regarding time) than it does carelessly giving away your life to anything and everything. shawn blanc says in one of his blogs:
It’s a difficult paradox to grasp but the nitty gritty of it comes down to the fact that our life in God requires more energy, time and focus than our “not life in God”. We have to be diligent about how we spend our time and especially diligent about how much time we actually spend before the Word, with God in prayer.
it’s so easy to be distracted and i do believe that God values our time more than we could ever. i believe every minute we spend before Him in thought and prayer are treasures to Him, and He would love to give us His treasures…if we would stay long enough to recieve them. He longs to give us answers, but when it comes to giving us the answers in fullness, He desires to wait until we give Him the opportunity to…which is more than just a quick two minutes. i know in my life, God has spoken amazing things to me in the “two-minute” gaps…but how much more does He have to tell me if i would stay two hours?
i encourage everyone to schedule time…plan it out…time that you can sit before God and seek Him. time that you can “gaze at the beauty of the Lord and inquire (bring questions) about Him in the temple (not just a church)”. He’s longing to answer…are we longing enough to do what it takes to listen?
welcome to part one of my new songwriting series. some people have asked me to write a few blogs detailing the spiritual and technical/practical aspects of good songwriting. so here is my feeble attempt to do so.
“man, that song just spoke to me”
“everytime i hear that song i just weep”
“that song is literally where i’m at right now”
what do all of these quotes have in common?
the first thing to understand when writing a song is to remember…the world and/or church does not need another song. this world is overflowing and stuffed with people’s two cents sung to music. creativity is good and all…but in the end, it’s all forgotten and non-impactful (new word!).
what the world and church needs right now is a revelation from God. i mean what is the point of writing a song out of my soul? am i really that smart? do i really have something to say that will help people in whatever situation (theft, divorce, abuse, calamity, worry, etc) they find themselves in? what are my words worth anyway? what the earth (both world and church) needs is a word from God! they need to hear who God says He is, what God says He is like and what God says we are to do with that knowledge. the earth needs answer…not opinions. the earth needs truth, not just stories.
i’m sorry Lord for the thing i’ve made it…
that’s a line from the song “heart of worship”, a church song written by matt redman. out of a personal place of revelation, he wrote a corporate song bringing the church face to face with the truth that, compared to who God is, WE DO NOT WORSHIP CORRECTLY. wow! and that song has changed the face of the modern worship movement.
so i encourage all songwriters to get alone with God and let Him teach you a truth of His kingdom (it may not feel good…lol) and then pick up your guitar (or whatever you have) and start writing. we will cover other spiritual and practical issues in coming blogs…but i believe that if you write ANYTHING out of the place of revelation…it will always impact someone…which is something more than what any of the 10,000 songs last year, that were forgotten, did.
if we were measured by love…how tall would we be?
Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the
fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.
then three chapters later….
Then the spirit took me up, and I heard behind me a voice of a great
rushing, saying, Blessed be the glory of the LORD from his place. I heard also the noise of the wings of the living creatures that touched one another, and the noise of the wheels over against them, and a noise of a great rushing. So the spirit lifted me up, and took me away…then I came to them (people of Israel) of the captivity at Telabib, that dwelt by the river of Chebar, and I sat where they sat, and remained there astonished among them seven days.
ezekiel saw God! actually he saw the pre-incarnated Christ! i never thought of what Jesus was like before He became a permanent human being, but ezekiel sees Him. he gets a revelation of the “mobile” throne room. read it for yourself…lol. he sees chariots, wheels, seas, fire, angels, creatures, winds and so many other things. it takes him an entire chapter to just talk about Jesus’ escort service! then after it all, the revelation ends and he sits around ASTONISHED for SEVEN DAYS!!! (what!!!!)
when was the last time we (cause i’m talking to myself too) were astonished by ANYTHING for seven days? the best movie i’ve seen i talked about for a couple days, it blew my mind for a couple hours…but nothing i have seen has made me speechless for a week! paul says in ephesians 1:17 that God desires to give us a “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.” the visions/revelations that john, isaiah, ezekiel, moses (etc) had, God desires to give to us. it is a breath away. we were made to be fascinated by God. so what keeps ME from entering into that realm of divine vision? what is filling up my soul that i can’t eat of the bread of revelation? what is keeping me from God fascinating me with Himself?
i think the problem with many people who claim that they can’t think of God “in that way” is that they have no filters. you see, the same mental facilities we watch tv and movies with, are the same things we use to think about God. so what we have done is trained ourselves to view God like we do TV (or whatever else)…if nothing is happening or we don’t understand what’s going on we change the channel. also, we numb and desensitize our minds to seeing true beauty. i’ve known people who all they eat is fast food and they truly believe that all food tastes just like that. how sad that we think that God is like some B-rated movie. we have numbed ourselves into thinking that God on His “best day” will excite us only for a few hours in church, but that most of the time (like the rest of our day), it would just be better if we “saved our money”.
but that is not the case at all! can you see ezekiel on the 2nd day, taking the whole day just pondering why the “chariot of God” needed “wheels” and then on day 3 wondering why there was a “wheel inside a wheel”? most of us would just brush right past it…but ezekiel knew that if it was on the chariot than God must of wanted it there and there was a reason…and it was a puzzle piece to understanding God better.
i pray that we all start thinking about God in a way that will leave us astonished for days and weeks on end.
the power that Jesus demonstrated on the earth did not come from His divinity, but from a place of surrender to the Spirit and intimacy with the Father. (Mikel French)
I have been in a place now for a bit where God has been pushing me into meditation concerning Him and the knowledge of God. I have been struck with the reality that I don’t know God. I know what others have said about Him but I don’t know the deep things of God for myself. I have remained ignorant of who God really is, what He is like and what that means for me. That’s where He started calling me deeper. He has been calling me into a life of TAG: thinking about God. So this series is a practical how-to and help (no where near exhaustive) for people who desire how to start living a life thinking about God.
I was worshipping last Sunday morning and we were singing a song called “Father, You’re Glorious”. There is a line of the song that the Lord started talking to me about. It says:
“I will stand in awe of You…forever.”
God started speaking to me that standing in awe of Him, blown away at wonder of who He is and like, thinking about Him is a choice. It’s a choice on our end to wonder and think about God. I literally envisioned me stepping into awe, just like I would say “and I will stand in the rain (or puddle, or shower, etc)”, I came to a realization that awe and wonder (and thoughts about God) are just as full of substance as water or dirt (or whatever else you would stand in). Therefore it requires a choice on my end to stand in it.
But that leaves us in a “do it even if you don’t want to” kind of mentality, where thinking about God is like a chore instead of a delight. David in the Bible talked about meditating on God being His only desire and delight. Why? Because of grace. That’s the second thing the Lord showed me: although it is a choice to wonder and think about God, it is His grace and greatness that allows us to stand there forever amazed and captivated.
I was talking to a friend today who told me that they had to look up something in the Bible real quick, but then she found herself 3 hours later still digging into the Word of God. It was a three minute project that took three hours! Why? Cause she chose to study (even because she “had to” real quick) and God met her there and for three hours started to reveal Himself to her.
So that is where this series will start. Although it is a choice to think about God, God himself will make sure that you are not bored by choosing to think about Him. He will meet you and reveal Himself to you. We were made to wonder about God. In this age that we live in, everything is shallow and can be explained. We have tried to make God that way but He is above understanding but He calls us to spend our lives searching out who He is and better yet He helps us in our searching! He wants to be known. In a land of shallow thinking, God is an ocean of wonder. May our hearts be forever thrilled to search out what He is like. So to sum it up:
Standing in awe is a choice. It is a choice to wonder. It takes a choice on our part to ponder the greatness of God. Yet it is His greatness that allows us to be in wonder forever.
i’m here right now at church “administrating” for the Master Builder production. everything is being set up right now, and as i type they are doing sound effect checks. lol (i keep wondering if it’s really storming outside or is it the cd) i plan on starting a videocast next week with behind the scenes clips and interviews from the leaders.
i did want to say this week (since i don’t have a video…lol) that the church in general needs to understand their place and Israel’s place in God’s ultimate plan for redemption. there has been so much deception and error in regards to israel. some of the stuff that is going around is termed what we call “replacement theology”…it’s the belief that Israel (due to killing Jesus) forfieted their place as god’s chosen people and now are just normal people who need to become Christians.
but that’s not how God works. the bible says he made with Israel an “everlasting covenant”. how long is everlasting?….it’s EVERLASTING! so there is a place for us the church AND there is a place for Israel. Israel’s calling cannot be summed up quickly so i will write more about that later. lol
(LATER ON TODAY)
wow…so i just got done helping the soloists with their songs. the songs and vocalists are amazing. everything sounds so good. we have to redo the tracks, so i’m looking forward to how everything will sound. 🙂
well, until next time…
i am in the midst of reading A.W. Tozer’s book “The Knowledge of the Holy”. here is one of my favorite quotes from it so far:
Thomas Carlyle, following Plato, pictures a man, a deep pagan thinker, who had grown to maturity in some hidden cave and is brought out suddenly to see the sun rise. ”What would his wonder be,” exclaims Carlyle, ”his rapt astonishment at the sight we daily witness with indifference! With the free, open sense of a child, yet with the ripe faculty of a man, his whole heart would be kindled by that sight…. This green flowery rock-built earth, the trees, the mountains, rivers, many-sounding seas; that great deep sea of azure that swims overhead; the winds sweeping through it; the black cloud fashioning itself together, now pouring out fire, now hail and rain; what is it? Ay, what? At bottom we do not yet know; we can never know at all.”How different are we who have grown used to it, who have become jaded with a satiety of wonder. ”
It is not by our superior insight that we escape the difficulty,” says Carlyle, ”it is by our superior levity, our inattention, our want of insight. It is by not thinking that we cease to wonder at it…. We call that fire of the black thundercloud electricity, and lecture learnedly about it, and grind the like of it out of glass and silk: but what is it? Whence comes it? Whither goes it? Science has done much for us; but it is a poor science that would hide from us the great deep sacred infinitude of Nescience, whither we can never penetrate, on which all science swims as a mere superficial film. This world, after all our science and sciences, is still a miracle; wonderful, inscrutable, magical and more, to whosoever will think of it.”
These penetrating, almost prophetic, words were written more than a century ago, but not all the breath-taking advances of science and technology since that time have invalidated one word or rendered obsolete as much as one period or comma. Still we do not know. We save face by repeating frivolously the popular jargon of science. We harness the mighty energy that rushes through our world; we subject it to fingertip control in our cars and our kitchens; we make it work for us like Aladdin’s jinn, but still we do not know what it is. Secularism, materialism, and the intrusive presence of things have put out the light in our souls and turned us into a generation of zombies. We cover our deep ignorance with words, but we are ashamed to wonder, we are afraid to whisper “mystery.”
when i read that, i realize how boring i am. there is a feast of wonder set before me and i am content eating “mudpies in the sand” (C.S. Lewis). when it comes to who God is, it is like an ocean to explore yet i am found playing in dirty puddles. i/we have lost the art of meditation…not the new age thing…but the contemplating on who God is and stopping to wonder in amazement of who He is and what He is like.
Job 36:23 says “behold, God is great and we do not know Him…”
you can read “Knowledge of the Holy” here