hurt.

If you have read my blog, you may know that I love my five dogs. I run “the boys” on a path/track on our property daily. The other week, Caleb, our five-year old Chocolate Pointer-Lab mix, hurt his foot badly. So of course, I couldn’t allow him to go for a run for several days while it healed. However, I still took the other four dogs for the 4-mile run and left Caleb in our fenced-in backyard. Well, like any normal dog, his favorite thing to do is go for a run, so he whined and cried the entire time we were out–each and every day. As I ran past him lap after lap, day after day while he sat behind the fence, the Lord decided to teach me a lesson through Caleb’s unfortunate situation. Jesus showed me that there were essentially two basic ways that he could interpret the situation:

1. That he was bad. That he messed up. That he wasn’t a good enough dog that day. That I was mad at him.

2. That I was bad. That I wasn’t a good owner. That I was just mean. That I had it out for him. That I didn’t love him.

How often is that our response to God when we are in a season of suffering, or things just aren’t going as we hoped or planned? First of all, that somehow WE are bad. That we have messed up. That God is angry with us. That we have done something wrong, and now God is punishing us. We know He LOVES us, but He doesn’t really LIKE us.

Secondly, our response could be that GOD is bad. That He is just plain mean. That He has “favorites” and we aren’t one of them. That God is just waiting to catch us doing something wrong, in order to punish us. That everyone else gets good things, but God just doesn’t like us, so He delights in withholding joy from us. To say it plainly, God isn’t a good Father and He doesn’t love His children.

OH MY…what erroneous, heretical words! How horrific and heart-breaking to know that so many BELIEVERS go through life believing either of those two lies. A.W. Tozer, a twentieth century theologian, said, “What comes to your mind when you think about God is the most important thing about you.” He means that our theology and perception of God directly affect how we relate to the Lord. Our belief system dictates our actions. If what we believe about God is unbiblical then we are living in bondage to lies of the enemy. We will be unable to live life to the fullest (John 10:10). What a tragedy!

For example, if I believe that God is mad at me whenever I sin (i.e. all the time), then my tendency to approach Him with boldness and vulnerability–or to even approach Him at all–is severely minimized! How many of us have confidence and security around a person who we feel is mad at us? Another example: if I believe that God is just a mean, distant Father who just has it out for me and doesn’t really love me, again I wouldn’t feel an ease in approaching and talking to Him. In fact, there would most likely be some measure of resentment and anger toward Him. Either way, these are faulty beliefs and are damaging to our relationships with God, if not brought to light and corrected with Scripture.

To be clear: what I am talking about has nothing to do with what we KNOW about God. Most, if not all, of us KNOW that the Bible says, “God is love” and “God so loved the world.” Most of us can sing “Jesus Loves Me” like we were 5 years old again. What I am talking about goes beyond what we KNOW, and dives into the realm of beliefs. For example, is there a cigarette smoker who does not KNOW that cigarettes will eventually kill him? Until he BELIEVES it, though, he will not quit smoking. As I stated before: our beliefs dictate our actions.

What do you believe about God? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal any lies. He is faithful. Then, inundate yourself with Scripture, filling your heart and mind with the Truth–it will set you free (John 8:32).

Remember Caleb? Why did I not allow him to run? Because he was a bad dog or because I was a bad owner? Of course not! I had to keep him from something he loved for his good. I knew what was best for him. He had a wound that needed to heal. I had to keep him from doing something that would prohibit his healing, and that would most likely worsen the wound. He couldn’t see that. He only knew that I withheld his favorite thing from him, but not from others.

Can I be honest here? We all have hurts and (dare I say it) issues. Only the Lord knows them all intimately and He wants to heal them. He also wants to protect us from further hurts or from that which may prohibit our healing. Often times we have no idea what God is doing or why, but if we have biblical theology then we can trust Him as good and what He is doing as for our good.

This is truth: God the Father only has perfect, unending, unfailing, redeeming love for those of us who know Him. Jesus the Son only has good thoughts toward us. God the Holy Spirit wants to fill us to overflowing with love from the Father. God chose us from before the foundation of the world. In love, He predestined us to be adopted as sons and daughters (Ephesians 1).

God is absolutely good. You are absolutely loved. Period.

hanging?

A hero is defined as “one admired for his/her achievements and noble qualities.” Who is your hero? Is there a person who makes you a tiny bit “12-year-old-girl-giddy” when you think about hearing them in concert, seeing them speak live, or getting a front-row seat to watch them play their sport?

The most recent time I can remember being THAT giddy (in my heart, of course–no squealing was involved), is when I was at Passion Twenty-Ten. I had a front row, center seat for Chris Tomlin‘s soundcheck (what I like to call “my own personal concert!”). I was the usher of the VIP section where John Piper and his family were sitting during a session. I smiled and said a quick “hey” to Christy Nockels in one of the backstage hallways, as we passed by each other. I took a picture with Charlie Hall as he was walking through one of the main areas. I was about forty feet away from Louie Giglio and Andy Stanley as they were discussing program logistics for the next session when Andy would speak.

However, I was praying for an opportunity to meet one of my heroes, Beth Moore, who was also speaking at the event. I was so excited at even the prospect of talking with her, that I had “rehearsed” our conversation in my head. (Don’t make fun–you know you’ve done it.) I went through all the questions I would ask. I would make sure to tell her all of her books that I’ve read and Bible Studies that I’ve completed–and my favorite parts of each–so she would know what a devoted fan I was. I would gush about how much God has blessed me through her teaching. I would make sure to ask her to lay hands on me and pray for me. I was TOTALLY ready…

Then, God stopped me and I felt him say, “No. You would shut your mouth. You would just want to hear her talk. You would use all the time with which you were graced, to hear from her. You would savor and listen to every word she spoke.” Lord, thank you for our godly heroes. Bless them today, in Jesus’ Name.

How would you react to meeting your hero? Would you be scared speechless? Would you be totally star-struck? Would you talk their ear off? Have you already had that conversation in your head many times, too? Come on, be honest…

I believe the people in Luke 19:47-48 had the perfect response:

And he [Jesus] was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.

I love how the author, Luke, is specific to say that Jesus was teaching daily in the temple. The apostle Paul says that under the new covenant, believers in Christ are now the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19). We are the temple. It is no longer a building. Jesus is teaching each of us DAILY through His Holy Spirit who lives in us. He speaks to our heart through His gentle, leading voice. He teaches us more about Himself through Scripture. He has absolutely every intention and desire to “teach in the temple daily,” just as He did when He walked the earth two-thousand years ago. So incredible.

“Hanging on His words.” I love that phrase. This is an exact English translation from the Greek word Luke used. We have all seen a picture of someone hanging from the side of a building or dangling from a jagged cliff. There is desperation on his face, but determination in his fingertips. Everything depends on hanging on, otherwise death is imminent. In that moment, NOTHING else matters. There is nothing else that takes precedence. I believe that is specifically what Luke was trying to communicate in verse 48: those people had figured out that life was in this man Jesus’ words. They needed Him. Hanging onto His words was a matter of life and death.

Is anything distracting you right now from Jesus and the words that He’s speaking to you? Has anything else become more important? Has the enemy “stepped on your fingertips” as you’ve tried to hang on? Do you feel like you fell a long time ago and there’s no hope to get back up? Are you simply afraid of what Jesus might say? No matter what the Lord allows or brings into your life, His Word never changes–hang on it with desperation and determination. Ask Jesus for help–He has nothing but perfect love for you.

As much as I would love to have a conversation with Beth Moore, I can make it through life just fine without doing so. However, I promise you, if I never had another conversation with Jesus, it would be the death of me. I need every word He whispers to my heart. I hang onto them for dear life.