Every body has their own form of “zen”. It’s that activity or thing that enables you to completely relax and forget about all the stresses of “mommying” or work or that family member that is driving you crazy. For some, it’s reading. For some it’s a relaxing bath. For some it’s exercise. For some it’s sitting on the park bench watching everyone whose thing is exercise. For me, one of the things that helps me “zen out” is a massage.
I remember when I first went to get a massage. I was incredibly creeped out at the idea of being rubbed on for an hour by a complete stranger. Am I the only one who broke out in sweats at the idea of being basically naked in front of a stranger while being pushed and poked for “relaxation”. That sounded like the exact opposite of relaxation. That sounded like my equivalent of Chinese water torture. This whole idea seemed ridiculous to me. Some person that you’ve never met is supposed to be able to “feel tension in your body, sense a pressure point and release that tension by applying pressure” (read all of that with the most arrogant, condescending voice in your head because that’s how I felt towards the idea). And then I went… you all know what happened next. I WAS HOOKED! Why had it taken me so long to try this?! This was life changing. I laid on this table for an hour but it felt like I was there for 10 minutes. I didn’t want it to stop! I was so relaxed. I love massages!
I am not the kind that loves the painful massages. You’re not going to see me waiting in line to have some 300 pound guy walk on my back because it’s good for my aching muscles. I am a feel-good massager. I like to be pampered with light to medium pressure rubs while soaking my feet in water infused with essential oils whilest being serenaded by easy listening instrumental music in a dark room lit only with a candle wall feature designed to set the client at ease. This is the only kind of massage that is worth the money to me…normally.
I recently went to visit a friend of mine from church that runs a massage business. It seemed like every other person I talked to had gone to see her and just raved about her, so I finally decided I would see what all the fuss was about. Believe me when I tell you, I have never had a massage as amazing as the one I received from Holly (if you are in the DFW area, you have to check out Sanctuary Massage and Wellness…trust me. She found pressure points I had NEVER known existed! The first few minutes were somewhat painful, but the good kind of painful, ya know? She found a spot and just hung out there for a bit until, finally, it was like I breathed out a long exhale and all of the tension that I hadn’t even realized was built up just vanished out of that one spot completely. She would pin point somewhere that no one else had ever seen or been able to detect and place her fingers in the exact correct position. Then she would apply pressure… and then more pressure…and then MORE pressure. It hurt but when it was done, there was more flexibility, more relaxation…more health than when I had come to her. She found an area that NEEDED improvement…that I had no knowledge was even in error until she started trying to improve it.
In Mark 10, there is a very well known story. It’s unfortunately a tragic story though. Throughout the Bible, we see story after story of people that searched Jesus out and were healed both physically and spiritually. People like Zacheus, Niccodemus, and my favorites, Mary and Martha. I love their story so much. How Jesus showed them how to love people like He did (if you missed that post, you can read it here). I find it so beautiful. However, this story, is notorious for being one of the saddest in the gospels.
It is the story of the rich young ruler.
I love where this story sits in scripture. It follows the story that teaches “let the little children come to me”. In this time in history, children were of little value (except as workers). Nowadays, we coddle children and protect their childhood like its GOLD! Back then, not so much. It’s not that they were hated or treated as slaves or anything, they just weren’t respected or valued in the same way as other citizens. This is the understanding when we read that disciples REBUKED those that were bringing children to the feet of Jesus, but the Word says that Jesus became INDIGNANT ad said “let the little children come to me.” These children had no rights, respect, possessions or authority, but Jesus said, “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Cue the next guy. He had rights, power, respect, possessions and authority… a stark contrast to the children the Lord had blessed a moment ago.
We don’t know much about this guy but that he was, of course, young and rich. We don’t even have a name for this tragic figure…that seems terrible. I’m going to give him a name so I don’t have to keep typing “the rich, young ruler”…let’s call him “Rich”. He is called a ruler in Luke, but simply a man in Mark, but otherwise the story is basically identical in both gospels. In verse 17, he comes to Jesus and asks a good question, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Now, this is every evangelistic believers dream right?!!! Everybody wants someone to come up to them and say “Hey! I’m interested! What do I need to do to go to Heaven?” SCORE! That’s like putting a tee-ball in front of Babe Ruth. Surely, Jesus will recite the Roman’s Road here or break out the old FAITH Evangelism script and lead this young man in the sinners prayer! Nope, Jesus pauses and gives a rebuttal to the question…why? Let’s look at the question again… “GOOD TEACHER, what must I DO to INHERIT eternal life?” There are three things in here that stand out.
I remember my dad preaching on this passage, and I remember him saying, “He’s asking the right question” and he is, but with the wrong assumptions.
Rich greets Jesus with a favorable title, “Good teacher”. This is a title that Jesus himself used in describing himself in the Word, so why does He argue when Rich uses it here?… I want to skip this and come back to it because I think it will make more sense after considering the rest…
The second problem is that Rich asks what he can DO to inherit eternal life. We all know the problematic assumption with this right? He is assuming that he can DO something to merit eternity with Jesus.
Ephesians 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Except that if we look what Jesus says in response, He gives him something to do!!! Jesus doesn’t say, “ask forgiveness of sins and know that I am Savior”. He says honor the law! He lists off 5 of the 10 Commandments specifically…those dealing with how we treat other humans. Why would He do that? We’ve all been taught that we cannot attain salvation through works.. that is stated over and over in the Word, so what is being meant here?
Rich looks at Jesus and says, “Teacher, I’ve done these since my youth!” Wow. First off, if that is true, I need to be this guys friend because he has got to be one of the nicest people that has ever lived. He may even have Jordan beat on the “good guy scale”. However, the problem still remains that the ASSUMPTION that Rich held was that salvation could be earned through his good deeds…through his “goodness”.
The next problem I have is with the word “inherit”. If you googled this word right now, you’d find several different variations and definitions. One of them is the “archaic” definition. What does this mean? One of the ORIGINAL meanings of the word and it means to “come into possession of (something) as a right (especially in biblical translations and allusions). AS A RIGHT. This word denotes that Rich felt He had a right to eternal life. He had earned it. Yes, I realize that this is more support for the last assumption, but this is particularly strong. He stood in front of Jesus and felt comfortable enough to use language that denotes a feeling of entitlement to Heaven…while looking in the face of the man who would soon go to the cross to make it even possible for people to reject Him. I don’t know if it’s arrogance or not. I can’t say that if I were there that I wouldn’t make the same mistake. One of naivity maybe? or ignorance? One I cannot say would be impossible to make for any of us at the time, but, praise God, we have the gift of hindsight!
Go back to Rich’s greeting of “Good teacher”. Why would Jesus correct him in this greeting? It’s not because it wasn’t true, but because Jesus saw the emphasis that Rich had on his heart. He didn’t see Jesus as THE GOOD TEACHER because of His nature. He greeted Him as A GOOD TEACHER based on His performance. Jesus had “earned” that title by all the good things He had done. He lives constantly in a mindset of works=worth. A product of his culture, he could not see past his own experience to the truth that sat in front of him. Jesus’ face illuminated by a small campfire, maybe, but Rich still left completely in the dark… because he felt he had the RIGHT to INHERIT eternal life. All of these pressupositions make this ALMOST right question, wrong.
So what did Jesus do about it? It’s one of my favorite sentences in all of scripture!
“And Jesus, looking at him, loved him…”
Praise God for this! Jesus knew the absurdity of that remark, but knew that Rich’s motive was genuinely to uphold the Law which he thought would make God proud. That was commendable. Not only that, but he showed tenacity and vigor in chasing after Jesus to find out what else he might do to secure his eternity. But Jesus next statement was one that diagnosed his need. He had looked at Rich, felt the muscles and found the point of tension. “You lack one thing…” There was a knot in the spiritual muscle that Rich needed to let Jesus press out in order to be able to get to Ephesians 2: 8-9. This is why Jesus answered in a seemingly “works” way. He knew that in order for Rich to be willing to sell all of his worldly possessions it would be only because he had a genuine heart change. His priority would be on Jesus and not on self. This passage is not teaching poverty gospel. We don’t all have to go sell everything we own and give it to the poor in order to “earn salvation”. We are to be generous, of course, but this does not teach us that that is how we obtain eternal life. This is an example of Jesus scanning the spiritual muscle of an individual and applying pressure to a knot, trying to make the body healthy again. This is Jesus realigning Rich’s assumptions.
This is an example of Jesus seeing a man and loving him; of inviting us to have intimacy with Him by exposing what will keep us from Him.
When I left Holly, my body ached. I actually didn’t drink enough water, so it REALLY ached for about 24 hours after she was done. Because it never feels good when knots are found. It’s painful and sometimes I just want to look up and say, “You know what? Can you just move to a different spot? I’d rather keep that knot then experience the pain. It doesn’t bother me that much anyway.” because pain can deter us from experiencing true health. That’s Rich walking away. It’s a man having seen the possibility of health, but not willing to sit through the pain in order to get it. Scripture says, “he walked away sorrowful for he had great possessions”. It’s the idea of being so close to getting what he wanted, but realizing that he was entangled in something he couldn’t release himself from. Knowing that “what could have been” “would have been” so fulfilling but unable to release the “is now”. Realizing how close one came to full health, but walking away so full of knots that you know will never be relaxed…simply because the pain was too great in the now.
I pray that I have the courage to sit through the pain…whatever it may be, so that he can knead me at those pressure points, so that nothing keeps me from a healthy and holy perspective of Him.
We’ve all those days, right? At least, I hope we have. Otherwise, I am just the exception that has that day when I feel like the absolute worst mom in the world. Have you ever just lost it on your kids? Or equally horrible… felt absolute apathy in parenting. Have you had those days when you feel like your feet are too heavy to lift off the floor to take the next step? Have you felt like every time you transfer weight from one foot to the other, the slight shift in gravity was enough to lighten your head to the point that it may be possible to just fall straight to the floor? Have you mentally begged in your head for everyone to either just shut up or obey your every command without hesitation or rebuttal? Had a day where you wish you could walk out the door without warning and engage in some good old retail therapy? Ever had a day when you were convinced that if you hear the word “mommy” one more time, you would haul off and rage hell on anyone within ear shot? Somehow, I just don’t believe I’m the only one that has had a day like this before.
This was my yesterday. People kept asking me how I was doing, and I was always surprised at the honest response in myself. It would make sense for me to be emotional, but I haven’t been. My answer is that I’ve been kind of numb. I’m hoping that is God’s peace, but it feels different than what I’ve felt in the past when I believe I’ve experienced divine peace. It’s been something that I didn’t understand, so I couldn’t explain it to others. I kept saying, “I’m sure it’ll hit me soon.” Well, I think it hit, just not in the way I expected. I thought when it did, it would be sappy, emotional, sad, or excited… but it didn’t. It hit with me being completely overwhelmed. I just didn’t have the emotional capability to organize thoughts, plans, and children for the days ahead and it took its toll.
So what do we do when we’re spent? When we don’t have the emotional capabilities to take on the day. I am not making this list because this is what I do every time and so I am the authority on how to do it right! Quite the opposite. I am the chief screw up, and these things are the only things that work for me to get me back in a healthy and Godly place.
A very wise philosopher once said, “You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.” Ok, it was Dr. Phil, but it’s true! We so often, adhere to a modern feminist idea that states “I am woman, hear me roar!” It’s as if understanding your need for other people makes you less of a woman, less of a mom. And in a day of Pinterest and Facebook comparisons, we think we see other moms doing their job effortlessly and don’t understand why we can’t be like them! We all know that that is not real life, but it still gets to us. It’s ok! You cannot change the circumstances surrounding you, but you can change the you within the circumstances, but not if you won’t acknowledge your need. Take a breath and give yourself permission to say…”I’m having a rough time.”
Sometimes, it’s ok to text your husband in the middle of the day and say, “it’s been a rough day. I need a tag when you get home.” And then go! Just go! Anywhere! Just go where there are adults and no kids. Go where there’s absolutely no one! Go wherever you want. Just take some time. I know some women that genuinely feel bad about asking their husbands to help with the kids when they get home. Let me just say this… YOUR HUSBAND IS NOT A BABYSITTER. He does not need to be compensated or given a 24-hour notice before being asked to watch HIS CHILDREN. Now, I am also not saying that you should disregard the fact that he’s worked a full day as well. But you both have, and you need to share the load of “after work hours” work. And sometimes, you need a break. Trust me, he’d rather you go away and reset then be at home and just lose it on everyone.
How many times have we heard “please call me if you need anything”? Now, be honest. Have you ever called? Ever? We’ve said it to our friends, and we genuinely mean it. I want to help a friend that’s overwhelmed or going through a tough time. I WISH they would call, so I can show love to them, but I never call them when I need help and they’ve offered. BREAK THE CHAIN. Call that friend, so when she is going through that tough time, she knows that she can actually call you. Let’s be there for each other in more than just a philosophical way. Put that intellectual brain and soft heart to work in action and love the people around you. And allow them to love you in return.
It is 2017 and the opportunities to waste time are endless and obvious. Put down the phone. Turn off “Real Housewives of that place that you’ll never go and can’t afford and just makes you hate your life”, The Bachelor or Scandal and look at your kids. Revel in their laugh, their games, their play and make a choice. A choice to ignore the rest of the world because what matters are the little eyes that look up to you. Don’t neglect the great for the good, or in some cases…the crap you shouldn’t be filling your mind with anyway.
This one is absolutely the hardest for me. I am a nocturnal animal by nature and I have trained my kids to go to bed later, so they sleep in later…since I am famous for being able to sleep till 3 on occasion (not a joke…happened several times). When I finally get the kids in bed (at 9:00…yes, which needs to change), I feel like I actually have time to do the things that I enjoy. They are all good things. I love to take relaxing baths while reading, I catch up on my Tivo, get into the good cleaning, organize whatever project I have undoubtedly become obsessed with, or plan the next day. None of these things are bad, but I often find myself up at 3:00 am and still going strong.
There is a reason God rested on the 7th day and it’s not because He was tired. It was because He knew WE NEEDED TO REST. I often feel like I don’t want to go to bed because I don’t want to waste the time. But sleep is not a waste of time. We will all be better moms if we just turn the brain off and shut our eyes. Go to bed moms.
God wants the best for you. Jesus said that He came to give us life and life abundant, but sometimes we get frustrated and we allow our circumstances to steal the joy that Jesus makes possible. Joyce Meyer said, “ I am not going to let the enemy steal what Jesus died to give me!” We got this, moms! Let’s acknowledge the need we have, be humble enough to ask for help, prioritize our time, and get some sleep! Let’s encourage each other and be real about challenges we face.
Those days will come. We can’t change our circumstances, but we can change how we respond to them! We got this!
We have been so fortunate to be able to sing at some pretty cool places, with some pretty amazing people. At our last church, Jordan was able to write and record on a project called SONGS OF THE PEOPLE. Go get it on itunes if you haven’t heard it…so good. This was one of the tunes from that record. Jordan sang it this morning in a slightly different manner than we had done it before! ha.
I was struck by the pure nature of the song done this way. It occurred to me that some may feel that there is a song that they love, but they don’t have the resources to accomplish it; the orchestrations, the production equipment, or what have you. This piece was done (and beautifully done) with full band, choir, orchestra, and praise team behind it. Here it is done with one servant strumming a guitar, singing a reminder of God’s grace.
I am one that can put man-made restrictions on my praise sometimes. Praise God! He does not put such restrictions on how we praise Him.
Guys, my babies are growing up. I cannot begin to tell you how hard that is. Of course, every mommy in the world knows the horror of this feeling. No one needs to try and explain to another mom the pain of seeing your babies developing into children/kids/middleschoolers/teenagers/ adults. Of course, there are perks to be sure. I feel like I’m going to look into all the faces of the moms on Jozlyn’s first day of school… yes, my daughter is going to school for the first time this year, and see an expression of equal parts heartbreak and elation; an inward struggle for a dominant emotion. I am thrilled to have some time to do adult things. I am excited to hopefully have conversations with “big people” who challenge my thinking and help me grow. But I am equally unnerved at the thought of my daughter being away from me for 8 hours a day. I mean, for the next 13 years of her life AT LEAST, someone else will have more time with her than I will. I will no longer be the one who has the best opportunity to develop her character, responses, intellect, and grace. That is a sobering thought.
When considering moving to NYC, of course, we THOUGHT about the day when Jozzy would go to school. We talked about the school systems and some options. We felt very strongly about putting our kids in public school. We want them to be a good influence in the community and thought it would be a great way to meet people outside the church. I still believe that. As much as I love Christian education, and believe me, I DO, I have definitely seen the effects of not allowing kids to develop a Christian worldview outside of the confines of the safe church. When we don’t expose our kids to things outside the church until we throw them out into the college world, we are begging for overwhelmed, blindsided and often times, ineffective Christians on college campuses…many of whom, leave the church once they’ve experienced this “new world”. This, of course, is not the case for everybody but is a large number. We didn’t want that for our babies.
However, when you’re in New York, that safety bubble is effectively burst! There is no “church world”. They are exposed to everything you can be exposed to simply by existing in this place, so we decided Christian school would be a great option. This is the only reason that I’m not having a nervous breakdown right now.
Jozlyn is so ready to be in school. She’s excited to go and I know she will thrive. I know every momma thinks their babies are brilliant…but mine really is…:). Maybe not “brilliant”, but she’s a very capable, smart little girl and I am excited what school will do for her. I’m excited for her to be able to be social and structured. I’m excited for her to experience new things. I’m excited to see who she will become. And I’m excited to get some one-on-one time with my little one.
The kids have coped by clinging to one another and I think the separation will help them gain some needed independence. I’m so glad they love each other, but right now, they tend to fall apart a bit when separated.
We are so excited about Jozzy’s school. I really want to tell you what school it is, but I’ve been on the internet too much and don’t want to say where they are going! ha. I’m that mom. But I will tell you it is an amazing place with fantastic leadership. They have shown love for our family and made us feel like our girls would be special to them, which I’m sure they do to each family, but I love them for it.
You guys are the best! Thank you for lifting us up. We love you.
How many times have we all heard the term “Christlike”? A million right? If you have been a believer trying to pursue spiritual growth, it is likely you have as well, but what does this term actually mean? What does being “like Christ” look like practically speaking? Is this characteristic even possible? Are we to pursue something that is actually not attainable to mere humans? After all, the attributes of Christ are powerful, sinless, humble, righteous, perfect, loving, and holy. I don’t know a single person who, even if they tried relentlessly could achieve this. So why would the Bible tell us to strive for something that can never actually be realized? Does it? This has been a question that the Lord has been dealing with me heavily on.
My pastor touched on this message tonight, and I loved it. Although, he would be the first to admit that this subject is far too exhaustive for one message. How can we discuss the idea of Christlikeness in one night? You can’t, but in all of my years of sitting under pretty amazing pastors, I’ve learned that the best messages are not those that pretend to give you all the answers. The best messages are those that leave you with a lot of questions; questions that you HAVE to go and wrestle with God to have answered.
I recently had someone I love very deeply warn me about the tendency I have to make my life revolve around the cerebral, particularly in my faith. He said it led to his “not really feeling anything, but doing things because he knew he should, not because he wanted to”. I tend to see things very black and white. I lead with my head and don’t understand those that feel things very deeply. In my immaturity, I looked down on the spiritual health of people who experience God differently than I do. God has wrecked me of that. I make decisions with pros and cons lists, with logic, and with a tendency toward arrogance. What killed me about this friend was that I understood this warning. I appreciated it because I know that in my flesh my faith can become all about right and wrong. It can become all about what I should DO instead of who I should BECOME. This loved one said that his life was so much better now that he is not bound by the “rigidity that comes with our faith”. The problem is, this is part of our faith. Absolutely it is.
God gave us the law in Exodus, and Jesus upheld it in His life. More than that he said,
So what is the first step to being Christlike? I believe, Scripture supports that it is obedience…and not just lawful doing what God says to do and not doing what He says not to do, but a submission to God’s authority. That means even if we disagree or don’t understand. Even if it makes absolutely no sense….like leaving the comfort of friends, family, an amazing church and going to someplace hard… obey…submit.
I recently did a post on David and what it means to be a man after God’s own heart. David understood this concept of obedience better than most. This is why he was given such an austere title that we all try to emulate thousands of years later.
But what about those times when we obey and we don’t get what we wanted or what we think we should? We all know the right answer….it’s all in God’s hands. But it sucks when it actually happens and often that answer is just painful when we’re in the middle of it. How do we deal with the disappointment? The best example of this is Jesus.
Remember the prayer in the Garden? Jesus prayed that God would take this cup from Him… and God didn’t. Jesus prayed for an outcome that didn’t come to pass, and that had to be disappointing, but the end of His prayer is paramount…” not my will, but thine be done”…OBEDIENCE- a submission to God’s authority; even if it’s painful…even if it costs us something. Something like comfort, position, entitlement, sex, authority, ministry, or a relationship.“ A submission to God’s authority” is the beginning to a life of Christ-likeness.
What happens when we show that kind of obedience? Go back to John 14:21
So when we obey God, He manifests Himself to us. What do we get when we obey through disappointment or pain or denial of self? We get intimacy with God. We cannot know God without understanding the HUMILITY of obedience.
But, there is something else we must strive for before we can say we are living lives striving for Christlikeness. “The greatest of these is love”. Christians have such a hard time with this. While straddling the line of grace and righteousness, some believers take a foot off of one or the other and lose their stability altogether. We MUST remain with feet planted firmly on BOTH. You do not have to relinquish your stance on righteousness to be full of grace, and you do not have to be full of judgment to be holy.
(Somewhat of a side note, but I feel it’s an important note: Obedience leads us to encounter God, and scripture teaches us that we CANNOT ENCOUNTER THE LIVING GOD AND REMAIN UNCHANGED (James 1:23). Anytime, someone has a genuine encounter with God, there is life change. If there is no change, there was no encounter. But this is a
charge FOR BELIEVERS.)
Christians often use this as a club with which to bludgeon non-believers into moral and biblical obedience. It’s not going to work. Grace upon grace upon grace for those that have not yet encountered God. My mom used to say it this way, “you’ve got to expect lost people to act like lost people”, and we’ve got to stop being surprised when people who don’t believe in Jesus don’t act like Jesus… THAT’S WHAT WE’RE FOR. And crucifying them for their perceived immorality ain’t gonna do anything to advance the Kingdom. God is not surprised by the degradation. Jesus, after all, raised holy hell on those in the temple and showed mercy to the tax collectors and prostitutes. Judgement here on Earth is for believers to keep each other accountable in love. Grace, church, grace.
That’s the love piece, but we are to never forget the “righteous” piece…that’s the head part.
The law is still in effect. It is still important and still applicable. The law was the physical embodiment of God’s call to righteousness and humility for His people. He wanted them to strive for morality and to recognize that they could never attain perfection. It is because of this that we have Christ- the embodiment of the complete gospel; righteousness and love.
We cannot have just one or the other, or we do not have the faith. We can struggle with one or the other but show me a judgmental pharisee and I will show you an idolatrous pagan who worships the tool of the Bible more than the God of the Bible.
Show me a spineless, compromising heretic and I will show you someone who worships the creation of God more than the being of God. You must understand the need for both- righteousness and grace. This, sadly, is what my friend didn’t quite understand. If you miss one, you miss God.
So what is it? What is the special formula to becoming Christlike? I believe that scripture supports the idea that to be like Christ, you must have a practicing life of obedience that leads to encountering God. This encounter compels us to a life of loving His children. “For those who love Christ, keep His commands”…and “the greatest of these is love”.
Would love your thoughts. Leave a comment.
I have always loved this adage. I cannot count the number of times someone has encouraged me from a pulpit to strive to be one “after God’s own heart”. It was very often from my dad, but since he was also the preacher I always envision him saying it from behind the large, elaborately carved, wooden pulpit he used to stand behind when he was a preacher in Mississippi. To be someone after God’s heart meant to love Him before all others. To align your desires with the desires of the Father. Of course, it didn’t mean to be perfect but to understand the importance of daily strife toward Christlikeness. I wanted to live daily so that everyone could tell that I lived for the Lord. I wanted to look different than those that lived for themselves and didn’t know the love of God that impacted my whole life. I wanted to be able to discern His voice above all of the other voices of the world that called me away from things that God would desire for me…like a sheep knows the voice of his shepherd, I wanted to know my God. This was the picture of someone who was a “man after God’s own heart.” Except that’s not what the Scripture says. Now, of course, all of these things are good things and can be found in one way or another in other scriptures… but it is not the definition given in scripture for how to be one after God’s heart.
This passage is very often quoted by those aspiring to bring motivation to their audience listening, but it is very rarely completed. An incomplete passage of scripture is very often a dangerous miscommunication. The completed passage says David “was a man after God’s own heart, for he will do ALL of my will.” Ouch. The Lord gave us the instruction manual on how to be a believer like David. He wasn’t perfect! Far from it! He basically hung out on a rooftop with binoculars so he could lurk at a naked neighbor… the guy was downright creepy. He was an adulterous, arrogant, murdering, lying, compromising, lazy, fearful, entitled aristocrat. But God could use him… because He was willing to be used. The only qualification to be a man/woman after God’s own heart was to do ALL of God’s will. Samuel was directed to David after God removed His blessing of Saul. Why did God do that?
Command. Just one command. He is not talking about the 10 commandments or the law. It would be impossible to keep all of the commandments for anyone….even the chosen King of Israel. There is one command that was given that was disobeyed. God commanded Saul to destroy the Amalekites, but Saul kept some of the spoils of the victory for himself and his people even telling Samuel of his intention to sacrifice these pagan spoils to God. But Samuel said,
You see? Saul obeyed the Lord MOSTLY… until he saw what would be beneficial to him. “This makes sense God, so I will do this and I’m sure you will bless it.” Even though he was given clear instructions from God. He did what God told him to…MOSTLY.
David did ALL of God’s will. Now, there’s the hard part. What’s God’s will? The big picture is the same for everyone. God told us in his word “Go and make disciples”. That’s it. That’s what we as believers are called to do. Go and find an unreached people group in your own backyard or across the world and be the hands and feet of Jesus. We were created for God, but we are called to his people.
We hear the word “called” very often.
“I was called to serve as a missionary to Africa.”
“I was 3 years old when I was called to full-time ministry.”
“I’ve been called to leave this church and go do that ministry.”
We’ve heard it so often in the church that we’ve probably become very numb to this word…I know I have. It’s a weighted word that means that God has commanded an action of some sort usually for a ministry or evangelistic purpose. And often used in scripture to note those of us that are “set apart” or “called out” as believers. But often it’s used to justify a move in vocation or location. (this is not what the bible says, this is just Kayla talking..) I feel that Christians sometimes feel the need to spiritually justify everything. I was talking to a girlfriend of mine, whose husband is in ministry. Her husband had a ministerial position at a church, a very demanding one that dominated a lot of his time. He was offered a position at a different church. The pay was roughly the same, but he got more vacation time and it gave him more time with his wife and kids. When asked why they decided to move, my girlfriend would say, “it was just a great job opportunity.” Now, I’ve always loved this girl, but I seriously loved her more. It is important to note that there is nothing super spiritual about sacrificing your family for your ministry. Your family comes second to God himself, of course, but not to your church…and there is a difference. There was no need for the “churchy answer” of “ well, we just feel the Lord calling us to this church”…even though that may be true! It was a great job opportunity to allow this man to do ministry to which he was “called” in a place that allowed him to provide for his family both financially and emotionally. That word holds significant weight and if we use it sparingly, it will hold its value much better and maintain our reputations as wise prophets of the Word.
So what’s the little voice that answers the prayers of His people? That’s God’s direction to enable His calling. I am in no way saying that someone who says “I have been called” is mishearing the Lord. Just encouraging caution when using words with a heavenly weight by giving them an earthly measure. “Now that’s just semantics, Kayla! Calm down!” Yes, it is!! Words mean something and when we say them, we are teaching theology as believers to those younger in the faith than we are. And in this age of social media where catchphrases can “catch fire”… be wise.
David was by no means perfect, but he was obedient. He was obedient to do ALL of God’s will. Is that even possible? Can we do ALL of God’s will ALL the time? Yes… if not then scripture would be less than true..so how? Well, it obviously does not require a sinless life or David most certainly would not be a candidate for such a title. From what I can surmise from reading the scriptures the difference between a leader like David and a leader like Saul is that Saul may have obeyed but for his own gain (like the elder brother in the story of the prodigal). He followed God for the victories in battle that gave His kingdom security and His pride applause from his people. When God removed His favor, his people applauded another and his heart was led to envy revealing that his obedience was never to God for love of God but for love of self. David’s heart beat for what God’s heart beat for. He desired to do what God wanted him to do for the love of God and the glory of His name. He was obedient to follow the Lord’s instruction and repent when he failed Him. He recognized his humanity and submitted to God’s deity. He obeyed when spoken to and bowed to the real King of Israel. He failed, but fell on his face before a holy and worthy God. He was a man after God’s own heart that did ALL of God’s will.
I was originally going to title this post What your worship pastor really wants you to know, but I am not a worship pastor, don’t speak for all worship pastors. I am married to a worship pastor, but I don’t even pretend to speak for him. So this is just the passions of a woman who loves to worship God and is heartbroken when people misunderstand what worship is for what we can more easily understand.
If you ever engage Jordan or me in conversation for more than about 10 minutes, our faith is probably going to come up. It’s just something that drives us and has become entwined with our DNA. We see this as nothing but a positive thing. It helps us have compassion, generosity, love, humility, grace, and patience… all of these attributes are not ones that come completely naturally to me, for sure. And don’t get me wrong…. we are far from perfecting these actions, but we are working on it.
One thing that has helped me is to stay intellectually motivated by a good library of books. I am proud (and shocked) to say that I have recently (very recently) become a lover of books! Why this love did not develop in high school I will never know! It would have been very helpful in getting through Oscar Wilde. I love authors like Francine Rivers, Gail McWilliams, Tim Keller, and, of course, Josh McDowell. Recently, we’ve been absolutely obsessed with a book by Zachary Neese out of Gateway called HOW TO WORSHIP A KING
We took our last team through this book, and the kind of discussion that was brought out due to its content was humbling. It’s provocative and unafraid. It dares to ask questions of our thought processes and traditions. It challenges you on what you think of when you hear the word “worship”. What worship is and isn’t. Is there danger in defining it? Is there danger in NOT defining it? Why do people care so deeply about it in our churches?
“Worship” is a very controversial concept. Whenever change is considered to the “worship”, people get very upset. Why? Why is it that the worship seems to cause so much conflict within the walls of the church? But what is meant by “changes to the worship”? Most of the time, it’s referencing changes to the music style or atmosphere. We have all heard “worship is a lifestyle”, but is that true? And what does it even mean? If it means, it’s anything we do with pure hearts in motives… is that biblical worship? Or something else?
Though, I know well intentioned, I hate this catchphrase. It does nothing to further our understanding of worship. It was intended to encourage believers to live a life focused on God, but what it’s become is to believe that everything you do FOR God is worship. And that is just not true…biblically. We can do a lot of great things for God. We can praise, we can serve, we can teach, we can pray, but there is an actual definition of “worship” and, I would say, that actual “worship” is something that makes a lot of believers incredibly uncomfortable and so not done often.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this… leave a comment.
Here are a couple things that have really stood out to me when speaking with worship pastors:
Worship in scripture was a physical posturing before a Holy God. It actually meant “to bow”. (To learn all the usages and meaning, please read the book…can not recommend it enough) Now, before someone says that that does not mean that you cannot worship in music, let me say…of course you can. But it is by no means synonymous with the word. When you can understand that your worship is not affected by the music because you can reflect on God’s character and nature no matter if there is a rock band or an organ playing, then we can stop the battle happening on both sides of the proverbial aisle. Everybody has a preference of music. My husband is trained in opera and sang in a metal band. He would sooner put on some band I refuse to name because I don’t like it enough to remember the name than my Broadway stuff. That’s just a preference of style. There can be no music at all and we can reflect on how holy God is. If you CANNOT WORSHIP due to the style played…that is a reflection of your heart, not the “worship”. No leader can affect your response to God…it is solely your choice to worship Him or not.
My husband was encouraged to write a philosophy of worship in college. We’ve spent many times in the car (when we had one) talking about it. I’m sure it will be ever changing but here’s what God has brought me to today:
I think when we are in a space to understand the awesomeness of God, we will have no choice but to fall on our face in worship.
If you are someone who has ever been frustrated at the music or the leader or been that leader, I seriously encourage you to read the book.
God can rescue you from your slavery, but what you do in your freedom is up to you.
I’ve heard it said that when God brings lessons in your life several times within a period of time, you’d better “lean in” right? It’s like He puts a truth on repeat to make sure we don’t miss it. Well, I was spending some time with a sweet friend of mine and we started discussing the life and death of Lazarus. We were struck by this story and concept of “freedom into slavery” and not three days later, I was at a woman’s conference that talked about Lazarus… Ok, God. I’m listening. The story of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha is in John 11. Now, I don’t just call this the story of Lazarus because let’s be real…Lazarus didn’t have a lot to do with it. He died and then got up…that was basically his contribution to this incredible narrative. But Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters, are really the focus here.
Let’s pause for a second. Am I the only one that gets really confused with all of the Marys and Johns and so on in the Word? I feel like every other chapter a different Mary is anointing Jesus with perfume, or sitting at his feet, running to the tomb, or being saved from stoning. Little did I realize that the same Mary that wept at Jesus’ feet and dried them with her hair (the same woman that Jesus credited with the incredible honor of being the only one in all of Scripture that showed love to Him) also, sat at His feet while her sister, Martha, constantly cleaned their home. It is this Mary and Martha that are the center of the resurrection of Lazarus. Jesus had taught them how to worship Him when He encouraged Martha to join her sister and sit at His feet. And now, Jesus was about to teach them how to live through the death of their dear brother.
Jesus had been sent word that his friend Lazarus was sick to the point of death, and yet He did not come immediately. The Word says that He remained two days longer where He was. Why? Why would Jesus not immediately hike up His toga, strap on His Birkenstocks and high tail it to Bethany to be with His friends? Or, better yet. Why not just speak the words of life and give Lazarus new health and strength through the power of His voice? Would this not give God enough glory? Why would that not be a sufficient showing of God’s power?
I think it interesting to note how the Bible wrote this,
“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. SO, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”
The Bible says “so”. Why? “So” denotes a cause and effect. “I’m tired SO I went to bed”. Because A then B. So Jesus stalled for a reason and that reason must be what came directly before… “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” Jesus knew what would happen two days later, and He allowed it to happen out of love for this family. The death of Lazarus would be a foreshadowing of His own death, burial, and resurrection. If they would be allowed to see with their own eyes, Jesus’ power over death through Lazarus, they would be that much more prepared to accept His own resurrection and be powerful witnesses to it later. This was an incredible gift Jesus afforded his friends; to be used by God to show His power over the grave.
But Why did He wait two days? That seems pretty specific. Why not three days or simply “a while”? In the traditional Jewish faith, there is a belief about the afterlife. This faith regarded death with the highest degree of respect. Every Jew had to be buried and as soon after death as possible. Cremation was strictly forbidden because the soul was still believed to have a connection to the body for three days after death. It was seen to hover before continuing to the afterlife. Hmm. That’s interesting. So, by the time Jesus had arrived at the tomb, Martha told Him he’d been dead for 4 days. So, according to their belief system, his soul was gone! He was way past his expiration date! But the power of God never expires.
There’s so much good meat in this story, but I want to focus on the actual resurrection for now. In Jewish burial custom, a body would be washed, anointed with oils and perfumes and then wrapped in burial cloth before being laid in an above ground tomb usually carved out of the side of a cliff or something. The body would be laid on a stone platform or crevice carved into the wall of the tomb. After time passed, the bones would be collected and put in “bone boxes” called ossuaries and placed with older family members further in the tomb. You’ll see this referenced several times in scripture about the collection of bones being laid to “sleep with my fathers” as they were typically family tombs. A simple shroud would cover the face and a stone rolled in front of the opening to the cave.
When Jesus arrives at the tomb, scripture says He was once again deeply moved. Actually, the wording is stronger than that. The Word says “He groaned in His spirit”. The Greek that this comes from is not a word associated with sorrow, but more anger. It is used not to simply note an emotional feeling but a feeling that moves one to action.
I’ve seen this emotion explained a couple of ways. It is possible that He was angry at the sorrow of the people that were mourning the death of Lazarus. This theory says that Jesus was angry at their misunderstanding of the full resurrection to life that allowed Lazarus to live eternally after death. Macarthur says, “while grief is understandable, these people were acting in despair….like the pagans that have no hope.” Now, you may think, “hold on a second, a few verses later it says ‘Jesus wept’, so how could He condemn others that mourn if He only a moment later, mourns Himself??” That’s true. This is where our silly English language gets in the way (go deeper, believer…study the Word). The Greek word used for “wept” there denotes a quiet, burst of tears. This would be in direct contrast to the loud, bombastic wails of the paid, professional mourners that the family would’ve hired for the funeral. And His tears may not have been for Lazarus, but due to a grief that His people were still lost in disbelief that all that have faith in Jesus will live forever with the Father.
Another theory is that Jesus may have been angry for a different reason. Now, I have no sources for this theory…other than Scripture for support. But keep in mind, these bodies of ours were not designed for death. Death only entered the picture when we exited the garden. Think about it. When someone dies, especially “too soon”, doesn’t it feel wrong?? Doesn’t it feel unnatural? Because it is. Death is not of God. God brings life. Death is the result of sin and Jesus is the One charged with defeating it once and for all! But in this moment with Lazarus, death had, for a moment, seemed to win. And it is possible that that fact made a holy Savior angry. Just like we saw Him angry in the temple when there were moneychangers keeping the poor from experiencing God’s presence, Jesus was staring at the reason His people could not be in unity with the Father. Is it possible that the Son’s righteous anger boiled over to tears of indignation. Boiled to the point that action was required… He HAD to do something. Death would, again, be shown who really held the power.
He told people to remove the stone. He doesn’t wave His hand and have the rock obey Him. He could. All throughout His ministry, the Earth had obeyed Him (think the storm when the disciples almost wet themselves with fear). But He enlisted the help of Lazarus’ community. Martha came to Jesus and explains to Jesus that He must be mistaken. After all, Lazarus has been dead for 4 days and must be stinking by now. Remember, this is the woman who has always been very concerned about the keeping of her house. She was “Martha Biblical Stuart”. Martha would not wish to impose on those in the assembly to the unnecessary stench of a decaying body just so Jesus could say goodbye to His friend. Martha, once again, shows that she wants so badly to understand Jesus and be counted as one of His intimates, but she is so shortsighted and blinded by her humanity that she fails at times to see the Heaven in front of her. I am very often a Martha. Jesus reminds her of who He is and lifts a prayer to His Father. He then cries out in a loud voice… a voice of authority. A voice that everyone there who had come from town could hear. If Lazarus didn’t come out… if Jesus’ cry went without response, the whole town would claim that Jesus was a false prophet and would be stoned in the center of town. This was a gauntlet thrown.
Upon hearing the voice of the one that gives life, Lazarus emerged from the darkness of his death. He had been delivered from his tomb and resurrected to life… but he was still bound. His face was still covered. His body was still wrapped and he was still in bondage. Jesus had given him life, but he was not yet free from all of the effects of his death. Jesus looked at the crowd and I’m sure his sisters and said, “unbind him.” He looked at his community and said YOU go set him free. YOU wrap your arms around him and tear the cloths that covered him in death and let him walk untethered into his new life! Jesus could’ve had Lazarus walk out free. He could have given him a royal robe and signet ring if He wanted, but He chose to charge those around him with a task. Why? Why not finish the job and give Lazarus the completion of his salvation? Did He get tired? Was His power not big enough to spring for a new robe? No! Jesus wants to use His people to untangle the mess that death causes. He looks at His church and says GET INVOLVED! Get in the game! Be a part of someone’s freedom! Remove the shroud of doubt, rejection, fear, anxiety, guilt, and depression and help them into a life filled with all that God has for them!
Mary and Martha had been taught to sit at the feet of Jesus and worship Him. They had understood what it was to bow before their Lord. With the resurrection of Lazarus, Jesus taught them how to give that love away. How to show their love in action. Jesus can deliver you from death and we, the body of Christ, help each other walk in life! This is the story of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. Lazarus was but a man who Jesus loved. Mary and Martha were women that Jesus used to teach what it looks like to love Jesus and live like Him.
So what are we doing with our freedom? Are we voluntarily enchaining ourselves to the same things we had when we were in bondage? Things like disbelief, anger, gossip, slander, addiction, lust, pride, or apathy. Or will we live free of the things that kept us bound and go help our brothers to live in their freedom as well?
I’ve always loved seeing how people glorify God through art…any artform. I put my daughter to bed tonight, and one of our rituals is to sing a song before bed. She asked to sing the song tonight. Then she began to sing a song she wrote. Once she was finished, she was given the praise that any mom would give her kid after such creativity, and then she said “that was my special song of praise to God” … and I melted. I DO NOT BELIEVE MUSIC IS WORSHIP (many of you are sick of hearing me say this), but I love when music is used to worship God.
Our faith is one of intellect and heart. We are told in Scripture to worship God with our whole being. Music, to me, is a beautiful outlet for that. Music brings such emotion, while lyrics tend to play to our intellect. I love what music does in my spirit. And my favorite one to listen to?? This guy!
I’ve loved that I’ve been able to hear Jordan sing praise the last few weeks. It always makes me happy. Here’s a video from church…. the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I can’t wait to hear Jozzy sing like this.
If you are ever in Manhattan, come by and see us!
Have you ever ridden on the subway system in New York? Or maybe the TUBE in London? The train is constantly stopping to allow huge numbers of people to load onto the small train to make their way to wherever their destination may be. There are usually so many people on the train that I very often lose sight of whoever I stepped on the train with as bodies have just wedged themselves between us. I remember one time, I had no idea what my stop was and my husband had been lost in the sea of what seemed like the entire population of Manhattan on our car. When I finally found a way to see just his head, I started signing to him to find out what our stop was (mind you, my husband does not know sign language and makes fun of me incessantly when I try to use it as a means of communication). I finally just yelled across the train like the foreigner I was and the entire train turned to see who the clear tourist was. #noshame.
Now, if you’re lucky enough to snatch a seat before others beat you to it, congratulations! But for those passengers who weren’t so lucky, every few feet there are these poles that people can hold onto so they don’t go flying down the center aisle as the train abruptly starts on its way again. So, as soon as someone steps on the train, the first thing they do is reach for one of these stabilizers. They GRASP onto it. Why? Because they need it. They reach for it to maintain their “uprightness”… their correct position. It is what keeps them from losing their stability. Those that fail to do so are normally found lying on the ground, color flooding to their cheeks as they stumble back to their feet…having lost the battle between themselves and Mr. Newton.
This idea of “grasping” onto something is usually the concept that comes to mind when we see Philippians 2:6.
This passage has been used by some, to try and explain that Jesus was less than God the Father. I know what some of you are saying, “Kayla, no one would say that.” And if you do say that, you may want to consider this a wake-up call. It could be that you’re spending too much time within the walls of your church building because many people out in the world believe that. Many believe that Jesus is not on par with an almighty god at all, but merely a good man who lived an honorable life of teaching and service. And what’s worse is that there are several “Christian” faiths that will, in fact, say just that. Jehovah’s Witnesses are probably the most famous, but in today’s age of progressive Christianity and new age philosophy, there are many that will allow any number of gods to be leveled equally with Jesus. You see, you don’t actually have to simply say that Jesus is a step below God to align with this heresy, but believing that the Son is equal to ANY other god is to align yourself with this kind of thinking…therefore, lowering Him below His rightful place of Godhood.
This is hardly a new idea. Some really hip people in skinny jeans may approach you with a “new way of thinking about Jesus” (love my fashionistas) and tell you that it is, but “there is nothing new under the sun.” The church has been dealing with this way of thinking for centuries. Why can’t we figure this thing out? Why is it so hard for us to understand? Probably because it is foreign to our minds that Jesus could fully exist in two completely different forms. We just physically cannot comprehend how he can be both of those things at the same time. How can He be fully God and fully man?? Answer- I have no idea, but scripture says He can. But the church itself has been trying to figure out how to verbalize it and understand it since the time of Constantine! (You’ve seen DaVinci code…believe nothing of what it says, but you know the reference) This was the idea that was being taught against way back then! A group of men were teaching that Jesus was less than fully God but instead was created BY God to accomplish His work. Constantine brought them all together to study the scriptures and determine the theology of the church moving forward because Constantine understood that unity of the faith was of the utmost importance… thus, the Council of Nicea…. yes, I’m a nerd, but it’s important! It’s important to understand that these men didn’t gather in order to DECIDE or CREATE this theology. Instead, their purpose was to study the scriptures, Hebrew/Greek culture, and language to UNCOVER the Bible’s original intent. In the end, they came to the conclusion that God, through His Word very clearly taught that Jesus was God in human form… even though, it was hard to reconcile to our finite minds, that God’s ability and character were infinite. And simply because we couldn’t fully understand this tenant of Jesus’ duality, didn’t mean that God couldn’t accomplish it (<- this one’s hard for a lot of people).
Although this was the Councils conclusion, there are many who disagree. Some say, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped..” is evidence that even Jesus understood that His place was below that of God the Father. After all, if you’re not grasping something, you are releasing it, so Jesus was releasing his Godhood right? But what does the rest of the passage say?
Jesus is the name that is above every name. EVERY NAME. This automatically squashes a discussion about equality with other deities. But what about equality with the Father? “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” I am not suggesting that the Heavenly Father will bow to His Son. What I am suggesting is that Jesus’ name here is given the same respect in every realm of creation as the Father himself…absolute dominion. At the mention of his name, ALL will bow. Interesting to note that the Father has no name. He has called Himself simply I AM and although He has been given many names that describe His character, he has no name. He is simply I AM.
Interesting to note that the Father has no name. He has called Himself simply I AM and although He has been given many names that describe His character, he has no name. He is simply I AM.
Let’s go back to the train. Say that I am one of the lucky ones that rushed onto the train right as the doors opened and found an empty seat. When I take that seat, I no longer need to hold onto the poles that stabilize those that are standing. Why?
You do not grasp that which you do not need.
Those passengers need the stabilization of that structure to keep them in proper standing position, but Jesus did not need to grasp His godhood to maintain proper position with God as God.
Of course, scripture says He humbled himself, but it never says He ceased to be God. Only that He took the form of a servant. What does that mean? The Greek word used there for “grasped” is harpagmos. Its original meaning is “something seized by robbery” and later came to mean “something clutched, embraced or prized”. Scripture is not saying that Jesus relinquished His godhood here, but actually that He always had it. Never in the history of the world has anyone been arrested because they walked into their living room and walked off with their own television. Why? Because you can’t steal (harpagmos) that which is already yours. What it is saying is that He did not prioritize His fame and glory over that of God the Father’s.
One last analogy: Growing up I had a lot of friends that came over to my house often. We had a fairly large house and my parents wanted the house to be the place where all the kids liked to hang out, so it was always full of crazy teenagers jumping in the pool or playing in the game room upstairs. Some of my friends grew pretty attached to my parents as many of them came from broken homes for one reason or the other. Some of my friends even came up with pet names for my dad; DP, Doc, Pops, and so on. But I never felt threatened by these terms of endearment. Why? Because there was no need to be possessive of something I could not lose. My dad was my dad. No matter how close anyone else got with my dad, I would always be his daughter. Not because of anything that I did, but because of who I am. I do not need to clutch to that identity or strive for it. I do not have to take it or have the ability to lose it…it is just who I am. I do not GRASP to be my dad’s kid. It is not something that can be loosened from me.
Jesus did not need to GRASP for equality with God because He already possessed it. It was not something He needed to hold tight to or fight to maintain. He was not afraid of finding Himself on the proverbial train floor because He didn’t hold tightly to the subway poles. He is equal in His nature by who He is not what He does. You do not grasp what you do not need.