Father’s Eyes

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How do I describe what I see when I look at this picture?

Beauty? Absolutely. Joy? For sure. Love? Friendship? Connection? Simplicity? Peace? Yes! All of that.

But for me, there’s so much more. I see my daughter who is turning into an amazing young woman right before my eyes. At once, I’m filled with pride, excitement and unbelievable satisfaction. I’m torn between the joy of the moment, the memory of what used to be and the immediate future of what’s to come. I have visions of the little girl who used to stare Button, our beautiful boxer, in the eyes when she stood up. And now, take a look, she has to get on her knees to get a hug from her buddy. Seeing this, I realize that when we have traveled the same distance again, I will be staring directly into the eyes of a grown young woman.

And I wonder…

What will I see then? More than that – what will you see then? Will you see beauty? Joy? Love? Friendship? Connection? Simplicity? Peace?

Will you see what God made her to be? Will you value her as he does? Will you fight for her freedom? Will you love her sacrificially?

When teaching us how to relate to each other, Jesus said: “So, in everything, do to others what you would have them do unto you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12.) So I can’t help but ask, how are we doing concerning the daughters of our world? On a scale of 1-10, how would you grade out on your treatment of beautiful young women in our culture?

Jesus would and has given everything for them. How about you?

 

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Journey of Faith Series

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Have you ever been loved more than you deserve?

Have you ever been given more than you gave? Forgiven when you wouldn’t have forgiven if the tables were turned? Pursued when you would have run away?

If so, I’d love to hear your story. I’d love to share a cup of coffee with you and marvel at the wonder of this gift. I’d love to hear where you found yourself and who it was who offered the unimaginable. And I’d love to meet that person. To look deep in her eyes as I celebrate the heart of God I see in them.

You know that’s where this reckless love comes from, right?

It’s what we were created for. To love and be loved. To be naked and vulnerable and completely known, yet accepted and cherished and honored. It’s the way things should be – and will be again one day. In the time between now and then, life is rediscovered in the pursuit of this love.

If you’re like me, you’ve chased this kind of experience in countless ways. I’ve looked for it in romance, friendship, professional partnerships, sensuality, athletic acclaim, public approval, and on and on the list could go. All of these offer glimpses of the approval and connection we long for but in the end, they are all empty and lacking.

No one and no thing can fill that void in our lives. It doesn’t matter what we chase, it all ends up twisted, bent and out-of-place. Nothing that has been created can give this to us. It’s all idolatry – false gods!

Realizing this can set us up for a transformed life. It’s not the created but the Creator who can satisfy our hunger for love and significance. And what of the pursuit?

So often, we focus on our pursuit. But have you ever considered the idea that you and I aren’t the centerpiece of the story? We aren’t the main character. But we aren’t insignificant to it! No, we are essential to the story. We are the supporting cast – so much so that the story can’t be told without us. You see, we are the love interest of the main character.

Our’s is a story of God’s love affair and we are his lover! He is the primary pursuer, chasing us with a relentless passion that is completely beyond our understanding. It’s so much less about our pursuit of him and so much more about his pursuit of us. He is coming after us and he will never stop. The question is, will you give in to his love? Will you submit to his advances? Will you allow your heart to be caught and overcome?

If you do, it will change everything! It will fill your heart with what you were intended to have from the beginning and you will find yourself naturally extending this kind of reckless love freely. His heart will begin to just come out of you.

How about you?

A Great Read

Do you have a Bible? If so, how many? Do you have a favorite? Is it a thin-line Bible? A daily devotional Bible? A chronological Bible? A study Bible? A pocket Bible? Or possibly an on-line Bible?

What version do you prefer? Do you like the NIV? The New Living Translation? The Message? Or do you lean more toward the New King James? The New American Standard? The New Revised Standard?

It’s amazing how endless the possibilities are for us to access scripture. We have it on our phones. We have readings sent to our e-mail accounts. We have them in our cars, in our bedrooms, in our living rooms and even in our hotel rooms when we travel. We have literally come to the place where we could have constant access to the word of God.

And so I ask, “What’s your relationship with the Word?”

Early on, I knew the Bible to be God’s book. That he inspired over 40 different men to write his words down for us. That it is divided into two major sections, the Old Testament and the New Testament. That it has 66 books, 39 in the Old and 27 in the New. That the Old Testament has stories about God and his people – Israel. And the New Testament has stories about Jesus and the church. I was a student of the word. I took notes in church and worked to connect all the dots. I was definitely in pursuit of more information. I wanted to know more about God, more about the church and more about what this meant for me.

Then, there was a time when I stopped reading the Bible altogether. I struggled with what appeared to be inconsistencies in scripture. And with inconsistencies in my personal experience. I stopped my pursuit of God and did my best to numb my heart.

But still he spoke to me. In the midst of my struggle, he reminded me of his love and his desire for me to be free. I heard is voice through the gentle challenges of other believers. And finally, he broke through with a word spoken deep into my heart, saying, “You have no life without me!”

When I came back home to him, I entered with a new desire. I wanted to know this God who would not give up on me. I longed to discover his heart. I wanted a real relationship with him, not predetermined religious answers. And so I searched, I questioned, I discovered and I let go.

In my pursuit of God through his word, I found Jesus. I was introduced to the Word who was God and has been with God from the beginning. Who participated in creating us for relationship with himself. Who ached as we continually choose to love ourselves more than him. Who has relentlessly chased humanity from the beginning of time. Who established the nation of Israel to represent God to the world. Who refused to give up on people. Who punished and rebuked but always followed it up with hope and provision. Who willingly gave up his place to become like us. Who came to once and for all rescue us from the enemy, from this world and from ourselves. Who stood in our place, taking our penalty…dying so we could live! Who promised that his presence will always be with us, leading us and reminding us of his way. Who will one day take us home!

When you look at your Bible, do you see him? Do you encounter his heart? Do you invite him to break through and have his way with you?

What’s your relationship with the Word?

 

Jesus is Crazy!

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Sometimes, I think Jesus is summed up best in one word…crazy! If you really watch him, listen to what he teaches and apply it to your life, you might agree with me. This man is nuts! Consider for a second one of his more famous teachings:

“Don’t resist an evil person!

If you are slapped on the right check, turn the other, too.

If you are ordered to court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.

If a soldier demands that you carry his gear for a mile, carry it two miles.

Give to those who ask, and don’t turn away from those who want to borrow.”

What was he thinking? Does he really understand what he’s asking us to do? What are the end results of a life like this? Do I really have to allow myself to be beat up to follow Jesus? Do I really have to freely give my stuff away, without resistance — even more — does he really expect me to give more than what they are trying to take from me or to serve more than what is being required by a person in authority over me? Do I really have to live this way?

That’s what’s amazing about the way of Jesus! It doesn’t make any sense from the perspective of self-preservation. But that’s just it. That’s the complete wrong perspective.

Jesus has invited us to follow him, which means that we live life like him. That we watch how he talked…how he interacted with people…how he touched the untouchable…how he loved the disgraced…how he accepted the prostitute…how he forgave those who were intent on killing him. We stand at the shadow of the cross and hear his words echoing, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves take up their cross and follow me.” And from that vantage point, all rebuttals that Jesus was just talking rhetorically disappear.

Here is a radical God that is recklessly demonstrating the depth of love he has for us. It’s a love that transforms us to the very core. So much so, that it becomes who we are. It becomes what we offer. And at this point, we stop asking, “Does he really want me to do this?” and we begin asking, “Who is the next person I can share this with?” And this sharing is so much less about what we say…it’s about who we are. It’s about being willing to die so someone else might live!

Yeah, this is crazy – but what a beautiful way to live!

 

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 Announcement and Ch. 12 Teaser

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It’s August and it’s finally here! No, I’m not talking about school – we’re still a couple of weeks away from that! And I’m sure that my kids and your students aren’t happy with me even bringing it up. So, what’s here? What’s the big news?

Reckless Pursuit is finally ready to be released! Today starts a week-long countdown to when it will be made available for purchase! I can’t wait to share this with you and can hardly believe it is time. If you’ve been reading these book teasers over the past couple months, I want to ask for your help. Share them with your friends and get the word out. My greatest desire is that you, your family and your friends discover the relentless love of God in a fresh, life-changing way and I hope that Reckless Pursuit can play a small role in leading you there.

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As we work toward the release, I’d like to share with you the final book teaser taken from Ch. 12 – “What’s Your Name?”

Kristen and I play a game with Brycen that we have played with all our kids. From the time he started interacting with us, we have taken turns asking him, “Whose boy are you?” And then we start pointing at ourselves and pleading our case in an effort to get him to pick one of us. If he picks Kristen, she cheers and I start complaining. I beg him to pick me and I re-ask the question, this time with more passion, “Whose boy are you?” Sometimes this works and he changes his answer, causing Kristen to start begging. Sometimes he stays firm with his choice, which immediately causes me to attack him, tickling him and asking him the question over and over again until he changes his mind. It is a ridiculous game but it’s a lot of fun. And in the end, Brycen knows that we are both madly in love with him and want his love in return. 

Reckless Pursuit: God’s Story of Relentless Love – RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 19, 2013!