Sunday, October 2, 2011


They’re shadows. They’re all shadows.
These gods we put our trust in.
The money we think will keep us secure.
The person we think will fix our life.
The job placement we think will bring satisfaction.
The next bite that helps us forget.
The church program we think will save us.
The love of our life.
The status we strive to actualize.
They are shadows in light of the One True God.

God spoke everything into being. Everything we see and everything we can’t see. Then, in His grace, he reaches down and creates man. He, Himself, breathes life into man. He then gives man dominion, or rule, over all creation. Each blade of grass, each firefly, each day was put under man’s rule. Everything being created for His glory, everything in it’s truest form points back to the Creator. Everything in it’s truest form brings joy to man and glory to God. Likewise, everything in it’s false form brings destruction and idolatry.
For Example:

Sex is created by God. He is not shocked by the physics of it all. It was His idea. In it’s truest form, it produces intimacy between one man and one woman in marriage. In it’s truest form, it creates life. In it’s truest form, it is a God-glorifying act of worship. Done outside of God’s design, it is destructive. In it’s false form, it destroys marriages and health. When God’s glory shines on this beautiful act, we have the choice to worship God through sex, or to worship the shadow…the false version of sex.

Food is created by God. This might be a shock to you, but God knew what would happen when the grapes sat out too long. Alcohol is His idea. Around the dinner table with good friends and family, wine warms the heart and extends the God-glorifying conversation. When food is shared in the fellowship of other believers, it brings unity and joy among brothers & sisters. When food is eaten to forget, it expands our waistline and breaks our heartbeat down. When God’s glory shines on the Ribeye, cheesecake, Cabernet, or Lager, we have the choice to worship God through food or worship the shadow…the false version of food.

Jobs are God’s idea. Before we broke the covenant with God through sin, God commands Adam to subdue the earth. He tells us to work. Work in it’s truest form brings security, a sense of worth, and God-glorifying relationships. In it’s false form, work becomes something we just maintain at best, and something we kill for at worst. In it’s false form, it leads to a delusion of status when our life is minuscule compared to eternity. Each day at our job, we have the choice to respond to God by working diligently and thanking Him for our position, or to worship the shadow and bow down to the career path.

God created everything we see and can’t see for His glory and our good. When we worship Jesus by enjoying things within His design, He gets glory, and we get to eat a reasonable amount of cheesecake. When we idolize cheesecake, we just get fatter and sadder. The idea now is to worship the Creator, not creation; to worship the Father of Lights, rather than the shadows. This week, as you go about your everyday life, think through God’s design for things and how you can work, eat, play, & interact with people while reflecting God’s glory. Or more specifically, how can your meal at Saltgrass be an act of worship?

One day, we will only see the true versions of things. One day, we will understand how sex, food, work, and relationships bring glory to God. One day, we will see His glory and not just the shadows that prove His glory. One day, we will no longer be tempted to worship the shadows for we will see Him.
“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”
1 Corinthians 13:12

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Feelings...nothing more than...feelings

(REPOST) Here's another one Sascha and I wrote together. She's WAY smart.

Recently, we were looking for a new house. My parents graciously decided to watch the kids while we did so. So my husband and I set out to see some houses. After finding the one we thought would be it, we went home and loaded up the family. My dad was driving, I was in the passenger seat, and my husband was in the back with my mother and the kids. We turned down a side street where there was some construction and a lane was blocked off. The car next to us did not see us as he veered over. We tried to get out of the way, only to enter into oncoming traffic. The white truck barreled toward us and I looked at my dad's face. This gentle man, always in control, was afraid. I knew that if he was afraid, I should be afraid. At the last second, the white truck swerved and missed us by inches as we crested a hill. It was at the top of the hill that I was certain we would be meeting Jesus in person soon. There at the top of the hill was another truck who was behind the first. Everything seemed to go into slow motion. I thought about my husband in the back. I was relieved that our whole family would meet Jesus together. Just as the truck was about to hit us, I woke up. All of it had been a dream.
It was so vivid and real. I was certain that I would see my LORD in heaven in the next moment. When I awoke, my heart was pounding and my forehead sweaty. Everyone was safe in their beds. I was safe in my home. Yet my heart still raced and my head still spun. In that moment was I going to die? No. Did it feel like it? Yes. Even when I woke up, it took a few moments to realize there were no pearly gates around. It took even longer for my heart to calm down and my eyes to close again.

When we allow our feelings to control and dictate our every move, we live in an alternative reality. Rather than look at the truth and seek the truth, we search our feelings and treat them as the standard for which we should live our lives. The problem is that our feelings were created to inform our decisions, not control them. In extreme cases, this can lead to debilitating lifestyles. You "feel" as if everyone's after you. You "feel" like you're going to die in public places. You "feel" like you've got cancer without ever seeing a doctor. Granted these phobias are serious issues that need not be minimized. They are issues where deceptive feelings have gotten out of control. What about everyday struggles, though? You "feel" fat so you don't eat. You "feel" depressed so you eat too much. You "feel" like your boss is going to shoot down your idea, so you don't even share it. You "feel" like you're marriage is fine, so you avoid hard talks. You "feel" like you love that person, so you leave your family. Feelings are deceptive little suckers. Jeremiah puts it this way.

"The heart is deceptive above all things, and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" - Jeremiah 17:9

This little sentence comes in the middle of Jeremiah conveying the often heard message of idolatry from God to His people. It's not God's statement, but Jeremiah's. It's as if Jeremiah is trying to justify why people turn from God and to the stuff He made as functional saviors. They have essentially set their feelings in stone as truth. Their hearts had deceived them and their feelings had become god.

"I, the LORD, search the heart and examine the mind..." Jeremiah 17:10a

God knows. He knows our hearts. He knows they are apt to believe the LIE. He knows that sin is engraved on the tablets of our hearts. He knows that unless there is a radical transformation, we will let our wicked hearts guide us to eternal destruction...that we would let our feelings lead us straight to an ineffective Christian life at best, or straight to hell at worst.

Praise God that we are not slaves to our emotions. Praise God that He has made a way for our hearts to change. He has "removed our heart of stone, and given us a heart of flesh." (Ezekiel 36:26) God has put His very Spirit inside of us so that we are no longer slaves to sin, no longer slaves to THE problem, but now free to live according to the Truth. We don't have to live in sin. We don't have to bow to every emotion that comes across our minds.

This doesn't mean that we ignore our emotions altogether. Our emotions inform our lives. We are created by an emotional God. He put those in us. We feel gratitude when we receive a gift. We feel sadness when we lose a loved one. We feel happy when a puppy licks our face. ( or allergies) The problem comes when that sadness paralyzes our life, or that happiness drives us to buy all the puppies in the world.

Scripture points out the logical end to letting your feelings and emotions CONTROL rather than INFORM. Romans 1:21-25

21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

This tells us that when we ignore the Truth,even when it's as plain as the nose on our face, God will eventually let us keep believing the lie that leads to destruction. But Jesus tells us in John 3:17 that he didn't come to condemn, but to save. Later in John chapter 10, Jesus tells us that he came to give us life...abundant, full, satisfying life based on the Truth, who is Christ. We are saved and rescued from the control of anything that is NOT God. We are saved into a relationship with the One who created our emotions and wants to use them for His glory, not see them cripple or paralyze our lives.

Let your emotions inform your life, not control it. Let your life be lived in line with the Truth of who God is and who He says you are.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Worshipping God without Hillsong (or Tomlin)

Worship is a lifestyle.
That's been a pretty popular buzz-phrase around Christendom for a while now. It's almost played out. I know I don't say it anymore at least. I usually start right in with the explanation. Or I say something shocking like "Sex can be an act of worship to God." That really freaks out some people. I wish someone had told me that when I was a teenager, though.
Chances are, if you're reading my blog, you can quote a few Bible verses. I'm betting one of those is Romans 12:1, but 4:1 odds. It's in context, though, that this verse really sheds light on the idea of worshipping without a Hillsong CD on full blast (or Imperials LP if you're my dad).

Who we worship
Romans 11:33-36
Oh, the depth of the riches and swisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord,
or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him
that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

After describing Israel's salvation and the ways in which God saves who He wants without consulting us, Paul kind of bursts out in spontaneous praise here. It is these thoughts that serve as the basis for the more familiar verse. A buddy of mine actually wrote a great worship song based on that passage (It's called Glory to Your Name). That our God saves in ways that are absolutely contrary to OUR way of doing things serves as the springboard for the next part.

How We Worship
Romans 12:1
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

I LOVE how the New Living Translation puts one part in there. "...when you think of what He has done for you, is this too much to ask?" Because He is so much greater than us and has saved us from Hell, ourselves, and His eternal wrath, we sacrificially respond to Him in worship...all the time. Which is essentially what we were created to do. We give our entire life to Him, yielding control to the Spirit of God. Why? BEcause HE'S GOD. It is THE truth that destroys THE lie. We offer Him the big, small, important, mundane, exciting, boring parts of our lives because it's ALL we have to give and He is worth WAY more that all we have to give. What does that look like? What's the Evidence we're doing this? I love the Bible. It tells us.

Evidence of a Life of Worship
Romans 12:2-3
2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the
measure of faith that God has assigned.

We worship Jesus with our lives by first changing the way we think. More accurately, it's allowing God to change the way we think through His Spirit by His word. We are transformed as we renew our mind in Him.
The most obvious fruit of this way of life is Verse 3. We will begin to think of others more than ourselves. We will begin to reverse THE lie and start to put Phillipians 3 into practice, humbling ourselves and exalting Jesus by putting others needs before our own. This is the evidence of spiritual Maturation.

The Grow Pastor on our staff is a genius. Gary Cook (not the DBU one, but the FBC Coppell one.) In a conversation in his office yesterday, we were discussing spiritual growth. He said that the evidence of growth comes when the "unnatural" acts of Prayer, Bible Study, Giving, & genuine fellowship with believers become the natural response to daily life. As we press in to Jesus, continually removing the "old man" and putting on the "new man", this new nature naturally responds to God in a biblical way. The only way to do this, though, is to pray, fellowship, study scripture, and give. The more we do that, the more Christ removes the old man and puts the new on us.
When your natural response to being hurt in a relationship is revenge or self loathing, that's evidence of spiritual immaturity at best, spiritual death at worst. When that natural response is forgiveness, that's evidence of spiritual maturity...evidence of your continually sanctified life. Then you're practicing Romans 12:1. You're worshipping Jesus with nary at dotted eighth delay to be heard, without Kari Jobe or Chris Tomlin to show you the way. You're worshipping Jesus without moving lights or inspiring videos, without Louie Giglio or Matt Chandler to tell you how. You're worshipping Jesus with your life. (no offense to Kari Jobe...only the slightest offense to Chris