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When God Asks Too Much of You

When God Asks Too Much of You

Do you sometimes feel like God is asking too much of you? Like He wants you to do things that are too hard, too big, or too costly in all the ways? Maybe He wants you to do something or maybe He’s telling you to […]

3 Ways to Experience The Sacred, Simple Abundance of Life

3 Ways to Experience The Sacred, Simple Abundance of Life

Hey friends! Please tell me you’re still in the process of settling into a new month and new year. I’m over here trying to get my bearings, get used to writing “2019”, and get the Christmas decorations back into the attic! But even in this […]

What Does God Want From Us?

What Does God Want From Us?

What does God want from you and me? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Do you know the answer? Is your answer biblical?

I grew up in a Christian home, became a Christ follower at an early age, have been consistently active in a local church, and even earned two seminary degrees. But I confess that my answer to the question “What does God want from me?” can get long and somewhat unbiblical. My list is often legalistic and more about pleasing others and less about pleasing God

After years of stumbling under the weight of all the unrealistic, ungodly expectations I finally confessed my weariness and failure to Him. That’s when He began to show me what He wanted most from me.

What does God want; Ezekiel 29; know God

What Does God Want From You?

More than anything God wants you to know Him. “So that they will know that I am the Lord” is a phrase repeated over and again in the Bible. It’s used over sixty times in Ezekiel alone!

We repeat what’s important, right? We repeat in order to emphasize instructions, gratitude, and warnings.

I think we can conclude that God considers knowing Him of utmost importance!

Step One to Knowing God

More than anything else God wants us to know Him in a personal way—to have a relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.

So the first step to knowing God is to enter into a personal relationship with Him.

  • admit that you’re a sinner
  • believe that Jesus died on the cross for you
  • repent of your sin
  • receive Jesus Christ into your life

Here’s a simple prayer:

“Dear Lord Jesus, I admit I’m a sinner. I believe You died on the cross for my sins. Right now, I turn from my sins and invite you into my heart and life. I confess You as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank You for saving me. Amen.”

If you prayed that prayer and accepted Christ today, I’d love to hear from you!

The Next Step

I took the first step toward knowing God at an early age. But here’s the thing. I’m still getting to know God. Even after decades as a faithful Christ follower, I recognize that I don’t know everything there is to know, everything I want to know about God.

One of the main ways I know this is by reading the Bible.

Just this morning while reading Ezekiel 29-30, the phrase “then they will know that I am the Lord” jumped off the page at me. Here’s what I learned and want to share with you today.

What God wants most from us is to know Him personally and then to keep getting to know Him.

Everything He does is with that purpose in mind.

Knowing Him isn’t the only thing He wants from us but it is the all-important starting point.

Knowing Him is the beginning of everything good in our life.

Seeing the Unseen God

Each time they faced opposition from other nations God’s chosen people had a habit of forming an alliance with Egypt. And each time Egypt let them down.

Ezekiel proclaims his message as an exile in Babylon with the Israelites.

But know this:

God didn’t exile the Israelites primarily to punish them. God never has been nor is He now interested in punishment for punishment’s sake. Rather, He intended the punishment or judgment in Ezekiel’s day as a means to an end—to bring His people to a state of repentance and humility before the one true God.
Charles R. Swindoll

God spoke to His people even as they were living far away from Jerusalem. He didn’t want to remain vague or far off to them. He wanted his people to know him. He wants us to know Him, too.

What Hinders Us From Knowing God?

So much can hinder us from knowing God but often the root cause is pride. God often warns us about pride in His Word.

In Ezekiel 25-32 the downfall of Israel’s neighbors is pronounced followed each time with “then they will know that I am the Lord.” Repentance and humble dependence are what God has always wanted from us.

As I read Ezekiel 29-30 this morning and saw the sins of Pharoah and the Egyptians listed, I saw three specific ways pride hinders us from knowing God. Here’s what I learned.

1. We Take Ownership

As King of Egypt Pharoah acted as if he owned everything.

“The Nile is mine; I made it for myself.” Ezekiel 29:3

What are you taking ownership of today? Your business, children, home, money, or time?

Remember, everything belongs to God!

Pride will cause us to live as if we are the ruler of our kingdom (life) and will hinder us from knowing and living in complete dependence on God.

2. We Act Complacent.

Ezekiel 30 is a lament for Egypt. Judgment for sin is near but she is complacent.

In what ways are you acting complacent today? Are you in the habit of disobedience?

When we act complacent we live as if sin has no consequences. But to know God is to live as believers, clothed in the righteousness of Christ, confident that the price for our sin has been paid by the blood of Christ.

We’ve been made free to live and love in the light of Christ, pursuing holiness, resisting complacency.

3. We Believe We’re Self-Sufficient

“Dark will be the day at Tahpanhes when I break the yoke of Egypt; there her proud strength will come to an end.” Ezekiel 30:18

Egypt thought she was invincible. But there is no one like our God. Nothing can stand against Him.

And we can’t stand without Him.

How are you depending on your proud strength? In what way might you be depending on your skills, education, connections, or finances instead of God?

Everything as Nothing

Look at your life. Consider all the events and challenges of the past year, month, and week and know this:

God’s primary purpose is always to bring His people to a state of repentance and humility before the one true God.

Total dependence is what God wants from you and me.

The Apostle Paul counted everything as nothing compared to knowing Christ. May it be so for you and me.

and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.… Philippians 3:9-11

God's primary purpose is always to bring His people to a state of repentance and humility before the one true God.

Why You Need to Unfriend the Mean Girl

Why You Need to Unfriend the Mean Girl

Yes, you read that right. You need to unfriend the mean girl. Have you ever unfriended anyone? I have and I don’t regret it. Unfriending someone on social media or in real life isn’t a decision I take lightly or make hastily. Boundaries and hard […]

Hearty Cabbage Soup

Hearty Cabbage Soup

This is definitely a Hearty Cabbage Soup! If you’re like me you might think “cabbage soup diet” when you hear cabbage soup. (Yes, I’ve done the Cabbage Soup diet. Hasn’t everyone?) But the men in my house want hearty, delicious food and to be honest, […]

How to Be The Spiritual Leader Your Children Need

How to Be The Spiritual Leader Your Children Need

If you’re a parent, this post is for you. I know you really want to be the spiritual leader your children need! What a privilege and responsibility we’ve been given! Whether you share that role with your spouse, you’re going it alone as a single parent, or you have a spouse who’s an unbeliever, I pray this post will encourage you to start where you are or continue in faithful perseverance as the spiritual leader of your home.

This post was written by my daughter, Maddie, and I’m delighted to share it with you.

spiritual leader, home, parenting, discipleship in the home

Get Personal

Earlier this year I was reminded of the crucial role that father’s play in the spiritual lives of their children and was thankful as I reflected on my own father’s pursuit of guiding my siblings and me in our spiritual lives. From a very early age, I can remember him gathering us in the living room at night to do a devotional with us and asking us how he could pray for us. Although I might not remember what all of these devotions were about, I do remember his devotion to leading us each night.

My dad has worked two jobs for as long as I can remember so that he and my mom could be obedient to their calling to homeschool us. My dad often left before I was up in the morning and returned late. This did not stop him from setting aside time to pour scripture and the truth of God’s love and faithfulness into our lives.

At the age of seven, I came to know Christ personally as my Lord and Savior. The beginning of my relationship with Christ began at home and occurred late one night. I was lying in bed listening as I heard my parents talking to my brother in the living room. I got out of the bed, walked into the living room and sat cross-legged in the floor eager to hear what they had to say. My mom shared her testimony and my dad’s testimony followed. My dad cried as he shared what God had done in his life. I was astonished. This was the first time I had ever remembered seeing my dad cry. I immediately began wondering, “Who is this man that would make my dad cry, not tears of sadness, but of joy”. I could see that this was something that had affected him deeply. Now, up to this point I had been to church every week of my life. I had heard the Gospel several times. I had heard my Sunday school teachers and pastors talk about Jesus and who He was and what He had done for me. I knew the stories but what truly hit home for me was the personal impact that I saw that Jesus had in the life of my dad. It was a tender moment and it is one that I will never forget.

More Than Taking them to Church

Dads, I know that you are busy and you are being pulled millions of different ways. I want to commend you for making sure that your children are in church. It is so important that they are being surrounded by truth on a weekly basis and it is definitely crucial to the spiritual well-being of your child. However, I do urge you not to allow church attendance to replace the role that you play as the spiritual leader of your home because the truth is that it can’t.

Church attendance was never meant to replace the father’s role as spiritual leader of the home.

The church is an amazing piece of the puzzle but it cannot have the same impact that you can on a daily basis. Your children need to see what the Christian life looks like lived out whether your day is good or bad. They need to see you treating and loving your wife as Christ loves the church. They need to see you actively studying the Word and pursuing a deeper relationship with God.

A Firm Foundation

You may make it to all their games, take them on amazing vacations, buy them the best car, and pay for their education at the school of their dreams, but when life hits them hard and everything they know is ripped out from under them, what foundation will they have to stand on? Who or what will they turn to? You hope that it will be Christ, but are they seeing you do the same?

It may seem like a major amount of effort, and to be honest, it is, but don’t overthink it. Being the spiritual leader your children need can be as simple as changing a few things in your daily routine. Shut off the tv at night and spend time talking with your kids about Christ. Read a five-minute devotion with them and pray with them before bed. Send them encouraging texts with scripture and remind them that you love them and that you are praying for them.

Lead your children and continue to lead them even after they leave your home. I am living in New Orleans and going to school and my dad calls and/or texts me every day to check on me. He has not quit just because I am living seven hours away.

You will never regret any effort you make in cultivating the relationship your kids have with the Lord. Being the spiritual leader of your home and showing them Jesus is the most valuable gift they will ever possess. Don’t look at it as a task to complete, but as a gift, you are given and can give away.

Thank you, Maddie, for sharing your heart with us. What a powerful testimony to the faithfulness of God and the powerful role father’s play in the lives of their children!

How to Be the Spiritual Leader Your Children Need

Three suggestions I’d like to make for mothers and fathers:

  1. Tell your children what Jesus did for you. Do they know how and when you were saved? Tell them the story!
  2. Live as if Jesus is your Savior. Do your children know that Christ is your firm foundation or would they say it’s something else (work, money, success)?
  3. Receive the forgiveness Christ offers you each day. We’re not perfect people or perfect parents and our children know that better than anyone. Don’t let your mistakes keep you from being the spiritual leader.  Be willing to admit your mistakes and confess to them when necessary and appropriate. Then claim the forgiveness and freedom you have in Christ. Your kids need to see what it looks like to live in the freedom of Christ.

“It is for freedom Christ set us free.” Galatians 5:1

Thrifty Thursday: Vintage Landscapes & Thrifty Decor

Thrifty Thursday: Vintage Landscapes & Thrifty Decor

Each week I make it a point to drop in my local thrift stores and browse for treasures. Sometimes I find pieces that speak to me and sometimes I come out empty handed. I always decorate by heart—meaning I buy what I love if it’s […]

The Whisper Only Your Heart Can Hear

The Whisper Only Your Heart Can Hear

I love God and I love the way He loves me. Sometimes He loves me big—you know those over-the-top, mind-blowing, part-the-Red Sea kinds of ways. But I’m especially fond of the ways He loves me small. Not that His love is small, but the way […]

Two Important Lessons I Learned at the Country Music Hall of Fame

Two Important Lessons I Learned at the Country Music Hall of Fame

I’m not a country music fan but I have season tickets to the Country Music Hall of Fame. I’ve been wooed across the state line twice in 5 months to wander the halls with fans from around the globe. In case you’re wondering what would compel such strange behavior I have a few words for you: #1 road trip — I love a good road trip especially through the beautiful, rolling Tennessee hills. #2 my people — I married a country music lover and birthed country music lovers. A good road trip with my people is all it takes to get this homebody moving.

I planned the first trip to the Country Music Hall of Fame (CMHF) because that’s what my son wanted to do for his birthday. Nashville is his birthplace and we lived there for five years but never went to the CMHF. I always imagined a bunch of “gee-tars” hanging on the wall while staticky, country music blared in the background.

I didn’t know what I didn’t know and boy was I in for a surprise. I don’t like surprises (Yes, I have control issues.) but this was a good one! So good, obviously, that I planned the second trip with my daughter because she was away at college for the first trip.

In this post, I want to share a few pictures from the first trip and the lesson I learned.

Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville,

The Smithsonian of Country Music

The Country Music Hall of Fame is called the “Smithsonian of country music” for a good reason. According to the website, it’s 350,000 square feet of dynamic state-of-the-art galleries where visitors are immersed in the history and sounds of country music, its origins and traditions, and the stories and voices of many of its honored architects.  The story is revealed through artifacts, photographs, and text panels, with a rich overlay of recorded sound, vintage video, and interactive touchscreens.

Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville,

Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville,

Wow! What a time we had! I took lots of pictures and really enjoyed watching my family have a good time. The takeaway I want to share with you from the first trip is this:

Lesson #1 Keep Your Heart Open

I didn’t go to the CMHF expecting to hear and see a story but within minutes I was captivated.  In my mind, I’d planned the trip for someone else and my job was to navigate, take pictures, and stand back and watch everyone have a good time. Oh, I planned to have a good time, too, because navigating, taking pictures and observing is my idea of good time. But the good time was all in my head. Not in an imaginary sort of way but totally cerebral. I didn’t expect to have my heart touched.

Blindsided by the Story

Stories have a way of touching our heart.

At the Country Music Hall of Fame, I saw so much more than memorabilia and guitars on the wall. The candid family photos, song lyrics scribbled on notebook paper, and personal items told the true story of men and women I only knew as award-winning legends of country music. I heard lots of good music (no static), tapped my toes, and even got teary-eyed a few times. Thank you very much, Loretta Lynn! (My favorite part by the way!)

Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville,

I can’t believe I’d actually considered dropping my country-music-loving-crew at the front door and heading to a good thrift store. Oh, what I would have missed!

I still don’t know the words to most of the songs. I can’t “name that tune” or identify the singer unless its Johnny, Willie or Dolly.

But, I’m so thankful to have been blindsided by the stories of the Hall of Famers. I understand a little more about who they are, where they came from, and why they do what they do. And I understand now why so many people around the world love country music.

Keep Your Heart Open

Keep your heart open to the stories around you.

We might make the same mistake in life passing up people and opportunities, certain we know the true story. We opt-out, check-out, and tune-out the stories being told all around us. And oh, what we miss!

I know you, friend. You’re not concerned about or impressed with the glitz and glamour of life. You love God and His people fiercely. And you definitely don’t want to miss out on the good stuff—AKA the abundant life Christ offered.

So I hope you’ll allow me to offer a few suggestions that might help you keep your heart open to the stories around you:

  1. Buy a “ticket” to your life. Because you only have one. Commit to making the most of it. Invest yourself in your own life.
  2. Ask questions. Because you don’t know everything there is to know. Take every opportunity to learn something new about the people around you. Jesus is definitely the smartest man who ever lived but He was always asking questions! Take a minute to think about why.
  3. Listen carefully. Because you can hear but not really listen. Listening is one of the best ways to learn. Listen without judgment. Listen without thinking about your response. Listen without debate. Listen to understand.
  4. Engage. Because you can show up but not be present. Lean in close. Make eye contact. Be curious and pay attention. Take mental notes.
  5. Expect the best. Because you control your happiness. Live with hope. Look for God in every situation. Believe that He is always at work around you teaching and molding you (and others) into the person He created you to be.

In the next post, I’ll share about my second trip to the Country Music Hall of Fame (with more pics) and the second lesson I learned.

Until then, I’d love to know:

Have you been to the CMHF?

What was your favorite part?

 

Just the Good Stuff #1 (July Highlights)

Just the Good Stuff #1 (July Highlights)

Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken. Psalm 55:22 NASB The past month was filled to overflowing. I’ve been neck deep in July and end of summer break stuff so it’s taken […]

5 Ways to Find Joy in Corporate Worship

5 Ways to Find Joy in Corporate Worship

I’m troubled by the trend among Christians of critiquing the church service—the form of corporate worship— as if we’re all judges on America’s Got Talent. But here’s the thing: Corporate worship isn’t a spectator sport and we’re not there to be entertained. I’m not saying […]