Archive for the ‘Love for God’ Category

Book Review – Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Product Details Over my vacation I read Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love (not to be confused with the summer blockbuster, Crazy, Stupid, Love). I have a lot of respect for this man, so I was really looking forward to this read. I have seen him speak and I feel like he can be a riveting and powerful speaker, but I found the book to be a bit dry at times. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy or feel inspired by this book in many ways.

I really, really did!

In fact, there were many very convicting chapters and concepts, especially towards the middle section of the book. But both the beginning and the end of the book did not hold my interest as much as I was expecting they would. I did appreciate the fact that he included video clips on his book website, crazylovebook.com. I felt this resource enhanced my reading experience.

Overall, I do feel as if I have been challenged to be more giving and loving. I really felt convicted during chapter four, “Profile of the Lukewarm.” It was almost painful to read through that chapter! I felt the same way about chapter eight, “Profile of the Obsessed.”

Francis Chan has a gut-level honest way of saying the truth that reminds me of one of my all-time favorite modern-day “prophets,” the late Keith Green. You feel convicted to your core, but also a little bruised and weary at times too. Don’t get me wrong. He never says something in a judgmental way. He simply brings light to the sharp and penetrating* power of God’s Word.

After reading this book, I am moved to be more loving, more givingmore like Christ. I don’t want to live my life for my own personal desires and goals, but instead for Christ’s purposes and glory. To do anything less than that is falling short of my calling as a believer, as a Christian.

Even with my slight disappointment, I still feel like Francis Chan packs a powerful punch in Crazy Love . . .

So I would give his book an A- rating.

If you are a believer and looking to hone your purpose in life, this book will give you many things to think about and even more things to get busy doing!

*Hebrews 4:12

Today’s post is linked to – No Ordinary Blog Hop and

Looking for Completeness

Today’s post is part of the Heart’s at Home Blog Hop for the month of June.

And this month’s blog hop is to answer the question, If I could go back in time and tell my teenage self one thing, what would it be?

My parents didn’t have a great marriage. So I remember thinking in my teen years that I would make it my mission to find a great guy, and not only escape my difficult family of origin, but also show my parents how to have a great marriage.

Ahhh, ignorance is bliss!

I took my idealistic and naïve notions with me into my dating relationships, often driving some of my boyfriends crazy! And, honestly, running a few boyfriends off!

When I finally met the guy that would become my husband, we ended up repeating a lot of the patterns that my parents had in their marriage—surprise, surprise!

But if I could’ve whispered into my teenage ear before any of that occurred, I would say . . .

Quit running after an ordinary man to be who the extraordinary Christ should be in your life—the first true love of your life!

Thankfully, all along the way, God was the One whispering this truth in my ear. And at some point, I actually listened and realized that He was right. Imagine that?!

I want to clarify at this point that I am not in any way saying I regret marrying my husband. I am so, so happy to be married to my husband, Gary. But I do know that I’ve put him, our kids and myself through so much more drama because I believed that Gary could and should complete me.

Looking back, I know that God used (and continues to use) all of the people in my life and especially my husband to act as “iron sharpening iron,” so His will was not thwarted by my unrealistic expectations. But I also realize that my compulsion to be in a relationship and eventually marriage, made my spiritual and emotional maturation process much more complicated, difficult and slow.

So, even though I can’t really speak to my teenager self, I hope that this will be a resounding statement to any of you (of any age) who are rushing into a relationship . . .

Don’t pursue a soul-mate or spouse until you can say that Christ is and will continue to be your first love.

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Earthly vs. Heavenly Father – Which One is Winning Out?

I never had a strong relationship with my dad. He was a pastor and kept himself super busy “visiting” members and prospects of our church when I was a child. But when he was home, we didn’t interact much there either. He just didn’t seem to know how to interact with others, especially loved ones, on anything more than a surface level. I don’t blame him for that. I also don’t ignore it. I accept it as the way things were.

As I grew into adulthood, I tried to reach out to him more. He was much older when I was born, so the generation gap was wide. But this age difference gave me even more incentive and urgency to get to know this mystery man in my life on up to his death in 2007. I am so glad that I made that effort. I had no regrets after his death. I felt content that I had done all that I could to bridge the gap.

Here’s where my story is going, though,… I feel like I’ve applied some of those same awkward and distant feelings to God, my heavenly Father. I’ve viewed Him at times as detached. I’ve viewed Him as someone who doesn’t truly care for me or have affection for me. I’ve tried for years to work on my perspective toward my heavenly Father, and I think I’ve made progress. But there is much more work to be done in my heart and mind.

In fact, just recently I’m challenging myself to refer to God in my prayers as “Father,” rather than “Lord” as I’ve done all of my life. This little adjustment has been slowly moving my heart to a warmer, closer place with my Father.

Rather than focusing solely on His heavenly and holy attributes, like some ethereal, majestic Spirit on a gleaming bright throne (which tends to make me feel removed and unworthy of Him), I’ve begun to give attention to His Fatherly attributes. I’ve pictured Him still as King, but also as my Father, who’s welcoming me into His presence. And I’m not just being asked to come and bow at His feet, but to climb up into His lap and feel Him wrap His loving arms around me!

This new perspective shift is changing my relationship with God. And it’s changing me too! It’s making it so much easier to trust Him. It’s bringing a lightness to my step. It’s healing the old wounds that were left by an earthly father who didn’t really know how to love. This new perspective is giving me a hope and joy like I’ve never known before!

I hope that you are experiencing an intimate view of God our loving Father. And if you aren’t, tell me about your struggles, so that others won’t feel alone in their struggle, and best of all, so that we can pray for each other!

“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16 (NLT)

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1a (NIV)

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My Frustrated Prayer

A few days ago I was rushing to get some time in with God. I have a lot of reasons excuses for that important time not happening.

As some of you may know, I type my prayers. So I have this indelible reminder—for good or for ill—of what I’m saying to God.

When I prayed the other day, my words seemed to leap off the page and hit me between the eyes. Maybe they will hit you in the same way—moving both of us to become fully devoted to Christ!

My Prayer:

Here I am rushing to get in some time with you. Maybe I can spend a bit more time with you later, after I finish another appointment on my “to-do” list. I’m sorry that I put you so low on my priority list. Why do I keep on doing that? What would it take to get me to fully focus on you? Being at the brink of death and life? I pray that is not what it takes to make me fully devoted to you.

Help me to remember that you died for me—an excruciating death, a death that you didn’t have to give. Why do I forget that? If I had gone through that, I would want whoever I died for to honor and remember me! I would be angry with whoever would put me behind all their list of “to-do’s.”

If I died tonight, how ashamed I would be. But I don’t want shame to motivate me to do what is right, what is best. I want to want you. But I know that I don’t want you enough or I would break down whatever barrier gets in my way. So I’m probably lying when I say that.

Help this wretch, Lord. Help me to see you for who you are.

I want you to be so much a part of me that you change me and people actually notice.

So far, that ain’t happenin’.

My Life – A Cake Walk

Recently, I read a stirring account of how each disciple died—giving their life in martyrdom for Christ—on Mark Batterson’s blog evotional.com.  His post made me think about my own life.  The little difficulties I face pale in comparison to what the disciples experienced.  Consider how my life parallels some of the disciple’s lives . . .

James (the son of Zebedee): King Herod had James “put to death with the sword,” which was likely a reference to beheading. (Acts 12:2)

Me: I lose my mind because my kids leave candy wrappers and dishes everywhere.

Andrew: He was hanged on an olive tree or crucified around 70 A.D.  Tradition holds that he proclaimed as he was facing his death, “I have long desired and expected this happy hour. The cross has been consecrated by the body of Christ hanging on it.”

Me: I struggle with a chronic disease (Rheumatoid Arthritis) that I find myself complaining about more than using as an opportunity to empathize with those who are afflicted.

Thomas: He was thrust through with pine spears or a lance, tortured with red-hot plates, and burned alive.

Me: The only cuts I’ve experienced are the occasional paper cut or cutting board blunder.  The only hot plates I’ve come close to are the sizzling dinner plates they hand you at Olive Garden.  The only burns I’ve had are sunburns or burns from my curling iron.  Yeah, I know, life can be rough.

Bartholomew: He was flayed (removal of all skin) by a whip after he refused to recant. Afterwards, tradition holds that he was crucified.

Me: I give in to the pressure and stress of the moment, losing my temper when easily provoked.

Judas (Thaddeus): Legend holds that he was beaten to death with sticks.

Me: Sometimes I experience the pain of people’s critical remarks or the abandonment of those I feel should stick up for me, but I’ve never had them come at me with sticks.

Matthew: He was killed by a sword, possibly beheaded sometime after 60 A.D. in Ethiopia.

Me: I get these killer headaches every once in a while that Tylenol cannot touch.  So I have to wait a whole day or two before it subsides.

Matthias: He was the disciple who replaced Judas Iscariot.  There are conflicting accounts about his death, but he was either stoned to death while hanging on a cross or stoned and then beheaded.

Me: I hang on to past hurts much too long which can easily turn my heart to stone.

James the lesser: He was taken to the southeast pinnacle of the temple where a crowd gathered. When he refused to recant, he was thrown from the top (over a hundred feet down). When the mob discovered that he survived the fall, they beat him to death with clubs.

Me: Sometimes I feel beaten down by the burdens and responsibilities of motherhood, the challenges of keeping a tight budget or the weight of helping to carry other’s burdens as a counselor.

Peter: He felt unworthy to die in the manner in which Jesus died, so he requested that he be crucified upside-down on an x-shaped cross.

Me: I feel unworthy of the criticisms my husband occasionally makes of me, and I usually defend myself in those instances rather than humbling myself.

John: He stared down death when he was placed in a huge basin of boiling oil, but miraculously suffered no injuries.  Afterwards, he was sentenced to exile in the mines of the prison island, Patmos.  Years later he was freed, dying of old age probably in his nineties.

Me: Several times in my lifetime, I’ve exiled myself to the “Island of Depression or Grief,” each time I have been rescued by God’s grace and forgiveness.  But I’ve never fully opened myself up to the kinds of persecution that the disciples, apostles and other martyrs of the faith have surrendered to so willing.

I cannot speak for you, but this is a sober reminder that my life, however difficult, is really just a “cake walk.”  Thinking about the sacrifices of these men, and so many more not listed here, gives me perspective on the harsh and not so harsh realities of my life.  So, I say with trepidation, I want to have the kind of devotion and abandon that the disciples had to their Lord and Savior.  How about you?

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Are You Falling in Love with God?

Remember how you felt when you had your first crush?  The animated movie, Bambi, poked fun at that euphoric feeling, referring to it as being “twitterpated.”  I distantly remember those feelings (no, age-related comments from the peanut gallery, please!).  After all, twitterpation doesn’t last very long.  It can, however, bloom into a loving affiliation—-marriage.  But for many, it can also end in an empty and dry obligation. Unless, of course, a lot of cultivation has been made throughout the years!

Our love for God can become like that, as well––an empty and dry obligation.

I heard a song the other day on the radio that made me think about all of this twitterpation/infatuation stuff.  The song is called, “More Like Falling in Love” by Jason Gray.  Although I like romance and try not to miss a good chick-flick, I also have a nuts and bolts sensibility.  I know that I cannot love my spouse, love my neighbor, or love my God without giving myself wholly to God through a variety of spiritual disciplines.   With that said, I also feel that God doesn’t want me to pursue Him for the sake of “puffing myself up with biblical knowledge” or checking off a list of spiritual to-do’s.

It’s a delicate balance we must strike—-pursuing God’s truth while at the same time surrendering our hearts over (and over) to His loving embrace.  He must be our Lover not just our God, Teacher and Savior.  I want that.  My hope and prayer is that you want and experience that too!