When desire runs dry

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Henri Nouwen wrote, “Those who think they have arrived, have lost their way…An important part of the spiritual life is to keep longing, waiting, hoping, expecting.”

Today my heart and mind are tired and weary from waiting. I am worn out from hoping and longing. Yet I must continue. These are my feelings, but my feelings do not determine my faith and confidence in God. While I am weary and tired, I have to maintain desire for more of Christ. I have to continue to desire for God’s action and presence. If I cannot do this, I am utterly lost.

When my desire to pray is lacking, I have to pray for the desire to pray. If God gives desire to the human heart, and He gives if we ask according to His will, then I have to ask for more desire in the dry and weary places.

E.M. Bounds wrote, “Prayer is the oral expression of desire…the deeper the desire, the stronger the prayer. Without desire, prayer is meaningless mumble of words.”

When that desire runs out, I have to pray and ask for more. I never fully arrive, and I certainly need more and more of Christ in my understanding, my looking, my speaking, my thinking.

Wilderness Journey

Another door closed for us this week. I apologize for the impersonal fb post, but I know a lot of you have been praying and walking with us, and I didn’t want to miss anyone.

We continue to journey through a wilderness time of our lives that began in June. I know enduring a wilderness time, one will either mature and learn or disintegrate. We have learned a great deal about God, our family, myself, and life in this time. I must also say I am weary and tired. I identify with Israel as they journeyed through the wilderness and wondered why God would do this. I know the feeling of desperation to hear from Him. I know the sense of silence on the other end. I know the questions which ambush the heart and mind regarding your identity, your value, your calling, your talents, your gifts.

I know the psalmist’s indignant prayer to “ANSWER ME, my God!” I know how to wonder how long will He stay silent. I know how, with Job, to hold on to the integrity of my heart while coming toe to toe with my God in prayer. I also know how to trust and say, ‘surely goodness will follow me all the days of my life.’ I know God is good. I know he works all things for my good, and He will do so.

Thank you so much family and friends for your prayers and encouragement. They give me strength for the long haul. God is good to me! You are proof of this.

Ascribe: what I taught my girls about thunder

drogoToday in Sacramento there was an actual thunder storm. As someone from the Midwest, I can say ‘real’ thunderstorms are rare in California. Today, though, my girls were eating their breakfast and I was making coffee in my aero press when, in a matter of two seconds, the power went out and there was an enormous clap of thunder that set off my car alarm.

I smiled with delight.
Haddisen (3 years old) was shocked and then smiled.
Bryleigh (4 years old) put her hands over her ears and cried.

I calmed the situation and then explained what thunder really is. I explained that it is one of my favorite things.

I also told them the story of Nikola Tesla, the brilliant inventor, engineer, and designer of the alternating current (AC) electricity supply system, who was known to sit near his window during a thunder storm. He would sit and wait until the next thunder clap when he would rise to his feet to give God a standing ovation.

Pslam 96:5-8 says:
“But the LORD made the heavens
Splendor and majesty are before Him
Strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.
ASCRIBE to the LORD, O families of the peoples
ASCRIBE to the LORD glory and strength
ASCRIBE to the Lord the glory of His name.”

“Ascribe” means to attribute something to something or someone else. We are to attribute great and powerful and beautiful things to God. The LORD does and provides these things; they are not coincidence or simply natural reactions. God is to be ascribed these things.

The girls loved this idea and for the rest of the morning we all three clapped for God with each thunder roll and clap. Haddie would even copy me each time saying, “Dadda, how cool!!!”

This journal

this journalIt has been since June that I resigned just after starting this journal. Journals have legs to walk with you through various journeys and seasons. Journals have backs and hearts to carry a great deal of things so you do not have to.

This journal is a gift from a friend I have not seen or spoken with in many years. It was a random gift which arrived just before an enormous life change I did not foresee at the time. This journal came to me from a friend who has always been a strong encouragement to “Keep writing. Always keep writing.” This journal came from this friend just before a season where it would have been easy to cease writing.

This journal has carried a lot of the things I never wanted to carry. If I could only displace those thoughts and processes on the back and heart of this journal, I could get through days, which would have been otherwise very discouraging and debilitating.

This journal contains the weak prayers of limping through the process of learning to ask God ‘what’ instead of ‘why’. I rarely get answers to ‘why’ questions, but I have learned to look at any and all circumstances asking, “God, what are you doing in me through this?”

This journal contains notes for interviews come and gone for positions I thought were great, if not perfect, but clearly not where God was guiding and calling me.

This journal contains notes for sermons along the way for beloved groups who, unaware to them, gave shock paddles to my heart by giving me opportunities to do what I love in a season when my heart was weak and confused for the future.

This journal has been able to carry the promise of prayer my heart made for the new year. It proves that the challenge remains. It is written in ink after all.

This journal, #38, passes a baton to #39 with promise and hope attached. It uses the discouragement and healing as a springboard to speak to my heart, “You are a better leader, husband, and father than you were before we began walking together, but more importantly, you are closer to the heart of Jesus than you were before we met.”

My Word of the Year 2015

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Several years ago I quit making resolutions or new years goals. I accepted, then, a challenge to choose only a word for the year. “One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live or what you want to achieve by the end of 2015. One word that you can focus on every day, all year long. It will take hard work, and will require intentionality and commitment. But if you let it, your word will shape you and your year. It will guide your decisions and help you grow.”

This year my word is: PRAYER.

While I would say I am a man of God’s Word, I want to be more of a man of prayer. Prayer is not an element of my relationship with God, it IS my relationship with God. I have to realize my relationship is dependent upon communication and time together.

If I wrote my autobiography, someone could read it inside and out, over and over again. They could highlight important parts about my story and things that mater a great deal to me. But that person does not know me. That person and I have no relationship. We have never sat and spoken together.

Much like this, I can study God’s Word inside and out, over and over again. I can highlight important parts and dedicate years and whole college degrees to studying things very important to God. But I could do all of this and still not know God. I do not have a relationship. I have not sat and spoken with Him.

I am a man of God’s Word and a man after God’s heart, but I want to be MORE of a man of prayer than I have been before. I want to be more of a man of prayer at the end of 2015 than I am right now. I want to know Him more intimately. I want to be terribly close to His heart, and that will only come as we sit and speak together with more intentionality and frequency.

Search and Reveal: the only balance between self praise and blame

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There is a great value to self-examination within the day to day walk with and after Christ, but it ought to be more than a solely self-examination. It is why the Psalmist prayed, “Search me O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Ps. 139:23-24) When we do the necessary work of self-examination we must invite God to search along with us and reveal the things He will. We do this because when left to our own, we have two primary tendencies, both of which are destructive to the honest heart after God.

Our first tendency is to praise ourselves too highly. If we do not ask God to search our hearts and reveal, we will make excuses for every wicked or troublesome thing in our heart and mind. We will make light of dark things, which ought to be dealt with.

Our other tendency is to blame ourselves too heavily. If we do not ask God to search and reveal, we will tirelessly break ourselves down. For some of us God is entirely more gracious toward our sin than we would ever dream of being for ourselves.This is why we need God to search and reveal our true heart’s condition.

God is fully aware of our tendency toward one of these extremes (I find myself in the latter most often). Because He is aware of our tendency, and because He knows too much SELF-examination does more harm than good, He presents in the Psalms how we ought to search and reveal the sin in our lives. We go about this with humility and grace, only God can accomplish that balance with perfection. Only God will draw us in humility and grace for self in order to balance between the extremes of praise and blame.

Catch for us the foxes: my address to my daughter’s husband

As I have been reading through Bryleigh’s Bible, it has brought me to the Song of Songs. I have been very interested to see what this time and entanglement will bring for my heart as I address her in writing regarding a book that Jewish boys were not allowed to read until they became men.

Today, I read chapter 2 and came across verse 15. The bride says to her lover, “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards while our vineyards are in blossom.”

As The Song can be applied to both our relationship as a bride to our bridegroom, Jesus Christ, it can also be applied to the true love relationship we have with our spouse.

These foxes are any of those things which keep us from Jesus and the life He intends for us. Catch the foxes! Remove the foxes! They must be caught and removed from your relationship with God.

But they ALSO must be caught and removed from your relationship with your spouse. This is an address to husbands! Catch the foxes! Remove the foxes. They must be caught and removed. The good marriage relationship will be one in which you both, but especially the man, DOES the work of catching any foxes which hinder your relationship and your marriage.

I wrote this in the margin of Bryleigh’s Bible, and it has stuck with me all day: “If your husband is unwilling to do this sort of work, I doubt his love for you.”

So many men are willing to work hard to make money for the family. They are willing to protect their wife from physical harm. I have known countless men who are unwilling to do the work of catching the foxes for their marriage and their family when it comes to the actual relationship. This will require work; uncomfortable work. Your hardest day of work may not compare to the hard work you will do in addressing those things which hinder your relationship and harm your wife to a far deeper place than any physical harm would bring to her. But if you truly love your wife and your family, you must catch the foxes! You must remove the foxes.

If you are unwilling to do this, I question your love for your wife.