Quieting the Noise

When was the last time you heard from God? I’m not asking about the lesson you heard in your worship gathering or in your small group discussion last week. No, I’m after something much more personal here. I’m asking about your intimate connection with the Father.

When was the last time you talked to him as you would your best friend? Do you remember the conversation? What did you say? How’d you feel while y’all spent time together? And one more question…

What did he say?

If you’re like me, honestly answering this question can be one of the most challenging things in your relationship with God. So often we come to God with our agendas, locked in our schedules, focused on our pursuits. But deep down, we know there’s more to our relationship with God than this. We know he is aching to not be talked at but to meet us in this conversation. To walk with us in our lives and to intimately guide our movements. He longs to be heard and known by us.

This kind of relationship requires something of us. Like any relationship we value, it takes work. Pursuit. Sacrifice. Intentionality. In the midst of this fast-paced world we find ourselves in, how do we make room for this with our Father?

In July 2012, I wrote a blog entry entitled, “Communicating with God.” In that entry, I discussed how social media promises unlimited connections with people but also threatens our real, deepening connections at the same time. In the year and a half since, I have experienced the danger of it. I try to set limits and live in healthy boundaries but even with this, it’s often hard to quiet the clutter.

I realize that in order for me to truly reflect the Father’s heart to people, I need to be immersed in him. Covered in his presence. Guided by his Spirit. Filled with his word. This can’t be accidental or even secondary. It must be primary. I need to pursue him with the same passion he is pursuing me!

In order to focus on this, I am initiating a 40 day media fast. I’m going to quiet my world of social media, TV, sports updates, etc. in order to be more present with the Father. I’m not checking out of the world or out of relationships. I’m simply quieting the noise so I can hear better. Truer.

May he be heard and known by and through me as a result!

 

 

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A God Get Away

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A “God Get Away” – that’s what the title reads in a journal entry I made from May 2010. Three and a half years ago. It doesn’t seem possible for that much time to have passed but yet so much has happened since then.

I had taken about three days to escape. Three days to quiet the world around me and listen to God. What would he say? Would he speak at all? I needed his presence. His direction. There is no way I could step into what was coming without it.

After almost a day of detoxing from the world, I began to intentionally seek him out and I found myself in John’s story of the life of Jesus – specifically in chapter 17…Jesus’ prayer in the garden.

I read. Sat. Listened. Looked out into the beauty of the ranch I was surrounded by. I marveled at the wonder of creation and at the same time checked the rocks around me to make sure there weren’t any snakes close by.

I read John 17 again. This time finding myself gravitating toward a few verses in the middle of the chapter. Verses that unpacked Jesus’ prayer for his disciples, his apprentices. Here’s what he prayed:

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.

As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be sanctified.

Protected, Sanctified & Sent. That was his prayer for those who would follow him. For those who would become like him in this world. I am not historically a journaler but I was moved to record my prayer in response to this.

After worshiping out of this same text yesterday with Journey, I have been prompted to share this prayer with you here. The following is my prayer from 5/12/10:

Holy Father,

I need your protection. Without it I would be consumed and destroyed. I have come to know how helpless I am in this world without you. Without your strength, my eyes go blind. I become consumed with myself. All joy disappears. Relationships become empty and difficult.

But in your covering, all of this changes in an instant. The air becomes light. There is a spring in my step and ease in my heart. There is boldness in my speech that is defined by love and compassion. Relationships are life-giving and there is rest at night.

Protect me Father! Do not allow the evil one to rob me of one more day with you. Fill me with your presence that I may truly live. Thank you for this life you give. May I truly learn to live in it so that when we are finally together in fullness, it will be like coming home.

Teach me what it means to be your son. Define me this way. Write it on my heart. Make it as true a reality to me as it is for me to be Brady, Reagan and Brycen’s dad. May I come to know you as “Abba” – “Daddy” and not just as FAther. Cover me and hold me in your hand, Daddy.

I just stopped there. I wanted to soak in his presence. I sit in view of what I was asking. I didn’t want to “end” my prayer and go to the next thing in my retreat. I wanted him. God. And I wanted to be more his son than I ever had.

I knew he was sending me but I also knew that I would have to be completely dependent on him if that were to happen. I could do nothing without his protection and without him remaking me to look like him.

How about you?

Not So Dirty Laundry

The clothes line.

It’s a picture that has been almost completely erased in our contemporary world. We live in a microwavable society and we don’t have time to wait for the wind to dry our clothes. We have instant access to nearly everything. If you want to know how tall Dirk Nowitzki is or even how to spell his name, just Google it (he’s 7′ tall by the way). If you want to know exactly how much longer before your kids get home, just text them. If you want to get the seven-day forecast or find out the latest breaking news in the world or sports, just hit the “News & Weather” app on your phone. I don’t need to go on. You know how small our world has gotten and how instantly everything comes to us. Even this blog is an example of this.

I love much of this new era we are in. Staying connected to so many more people. Not having to watch the news but knowing what’s going on in the world. Not getting lost everytime I go somewhere new. But is there a price that we pay for this?

Sometimes I long for the simple and less convenient. For moments of walking around with a cup of coffee in my hand, knowing that it will be another hour before my next task can be attempted, much less completed. Time to breathe. Time to think. Time to connect one on one with someone – not through a computer or in a text message but face to face. Where I can see the light in their eyes and the smirk on their face. But too many times, this is missed.

We have so much opportunity for relationship in front of us and so often we settle for less. We share a polite, “How’s it going?” in passing or send someone a “poke” on facebook or add them as a friend but still find ourselves isolated and unknown. It is too easy for us to hurry from one important event to the next, forgetting the people the event is really about. And we accept surface relationships as normal.

But…we were made for more! We were created to love and be loved deeply. To be known at every level and loved anyway – even in spite of the stuff we wish wasn’t there. We are shown a picture of this from the Father, as he takes our dirty laundry and incredibly makes it fresh again. And as he hangs it up dry, our shame of what once covered our stuff is now gone!

I can look you in the eye and tell you of the old stains in my life with a smile on my face, having no thought of embarrassment because it’s not there anymore. When this is done, authentic relationship is developed, love is shared and the Father is made known. And when we hit a bump in the road and the coffee flies all over us, we can draw from this relationship and point back at the clothes line. A reminder of the newness given by the Father in the past and the promise of what’s available to us now.

So bring on the coffee and the conversation. Let’s share this life together. Don’t worry about the spills, I know a good cleaner!

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Reckless Pursuit

I have never enjoyed running, although I have done it in some form for most of my life. It is sort of required to play the sports I love. But I have never really understood running for the sake of running. My thought is, “Why go through the trouble if there is no greater reward waiting at the end?”

A year and a half ago, I led Journey Christian Community in Waco, TX through a teaching series entitled, “Yahweh’s Story.” It is an amazing story full of unbelievable love and indescribable heartache. It is the story that we all find ourselves in — but it is not our story. It’s the Father’s!

Since the very beginning of this story, our Father has been after us. He has been pursuing us with reckless abandon. And we run. We follow the pattern of so many who have come before us and we run. We run because we are afraid. We run because we are ashamed. We run because we believe that something out there will ease our hearts.

If only we would slow down long enough to take a look at the one chasing after us. We would see the face of a Father whose heart is breaking. We would hear the tenderness of his voice, pleading, “It’s OK! Come, let me hold you. You are my precious one.” You see, the Father is not in pursuit to accuse and destroy. In fact, quite the opposite! He pursues because he loves you radically and he will continue in his chase until the last chapter of his story is written.

I, like most of us, am a runner. But I have been caught by the Father and have been overcome by his love for me. I still run but most days it is toward him.

This blog and its posts are dedicated to discovering the Father’s pursuit of our hearts and the incredible life given to us as we live recklessly in his love.

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Reckless Pursuit: Ch. 6 – Can I Ask You A Question?

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When you hear the words, “best friend,” who comes to mind? What emotions instantly invade your heart? What memories rush in, taking back to a different time?

There are not many things in this world that are better than true, deep, meaningful friendships. They fill our lives with love and laughter. They fill our schedules with unending activities. They dominate our time on the web through Facebook, twitter, etc. They rank high on our priority list and we value their thoughts and opinions.

But there are some times when well-meaning friends aren’t that helpful. There are some times when “that kind word” is better left unsaid.

The following is a snapshot excerpt of the upcoming book…

Reckless Pursuit: God’s Story of Relentless Love – Chapter 6: Can I Ask You A Question?

                  So many times, well-meaning friends say things to people in the midst of their struggles that simply don’t help! They say things like, “Just let go and let God.” Or, “You know, God works all things for the good for those who love him.” Or even, “What do you think God is trying to teach you through this trial?” They think they are pointing the suffering person back to God but often they end up raising accusations, both against God and against their hurting friend.

                  Sometimes, there is nothing left to let go of. Sometimes, it isn’t God who is working in their situation and there is no apparent good to be found. Sometimes, we suffer at the hands of the Accuser. Sometimes, the only lesson to be taught is that we live in a broken and fallen world, where things are not as the Father desires for us.

Reckless Pursuit is currently being prepared for publishing. It will be made available to the public early this fall. Keep coming back here for more updates and teasers.

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