Pursued and Devoured

There have been times when I wake in a cold sweat, heart pounding and eyes wide open, staring into the darkness of my room.  The fear is real. The pursuit is relentless.  The enemy is within inches of pulling me down when I am rescued by wakefulness.   The nightmare continues in my mind as I lay there – awake – but thinking
about how I could have survived the attack.

These are the the images of being pursued!  It is scary, exhausting, filled with danger.  I experience the gazelle being chased by the cheetah…it is a race for life!  Every dodge and turn can spell survival or death…my chest constricts – I hate this feeling!  Can you relate?  Have you felt this sense of looming doom?  The constricting grasp of financial disaster; the oppressive pressure of unrelenting illness; the suffocation of loss and death.  It pursues…it seeks to cripple and destroy!  Can there be anything good about being pursued?

Would it surprise you, then to know that God pursues you?  Would you be afraid to know that He desires to not only pursue and catch you but to devour you?  We are marked by the Creator and sit squarely in His sights and are the object of His pursuit.

I suppose your view of God and His intentions will determine if this image scares you or thrills you.  For me, it is both.  God is both loving and good .  He is both holy and just.  His goodness and love fill me with the hope that He has nothing but my best in His plan.  His justice and holiness send shivers down the spine of my selfish form.  I don’t want to be pursued and captured by the One Who defines good and evil.  I want to be engulfed by the One Who creates and gives life.  I don’t have a choice – He is both!

How else can we explain His demotion to Earth?  He, the Supreme Ruler, in the comfort and grandeur of His perfect Holy Place stoops to become mere man…to pursue us!  How can we grasp the notion of Him walking among us and experiencing our smallness so that we would be able to see God with skin!…He pursues us!  How can we justify our selfish pursuits for importance, success and significance when He willingly surrendered His life and power to the hands of hateful mob…He pursues us!

  • God comes to Adam & Eve…to commune with His creation – He pursues them
  • God comes to Cain; warns of sin at the door – He pursues him
  • God comes to Abraham; shows him a Promise, a Plan – He pursues him
  • God wrestles with Jacob, maims him, calls him Israel – He pursues him.
  • Jesus comes to a lake, calls them to be fishers of men – He pursues them.
  • God meets Saul on the road, blinds him, calls him Paul – He pursues him.
  • God brings road block, pain, discomfort, blessing, joy, trial… – He pursues us.

Pursued, caught, conquered.  It seems this is what we expect and yet, an almighty hand grabs hold and the glint of cutting steel catches our eye.  The knife is not at our throat; it is at our side.  We are helpless before the sheers and our Maker is removing the weight of our own overgrowth.  The very things we hold closest to us, He lovingly cuts away and the unexpected result is a new sense of freedom…relief!

SheepShearHis pursuit is not to end my life but to fulfill it.  His pursuit is not to devour me but to consume me.  His pursuit is not to remove what I want but to give me what I need.  His passionate pursuit of love stuns me; fills me with wondrous fear and finds me in my darkest hour.  Without His pursuit of us, we would all be forever lost!

May you know the pursuing & consuming love of your Creator.

John 10:14-16

Open Mic: Share your thoughts

  1. How has God pursued you?
  2. How have you resisted His pursuit?
-Michael G

Yo-Yos and Wishing Wells

yo yo

The Sleeper, Walk the Dog, Around the World, and the Lindy Loop/Double on a Trapeze! It doesn’t matter which yo-yo trick you try, it always ends with the yo-yo coming back to you – even if you have to re-wind it by hand, like I always do!  I had a cheap plastic yo-yo when I was a kid and after several failed attempts to produce a Sleeping Something-or-other, I gave it an extra hard toss.  The string broke and the yo-yo did not come back.  I suppose it was just a yo!

It is unfortunate how many cliches we seem to have in our modern churches.  Have you ever heard these?

  • Let go and let God
  • God has a plan for you
  • I’ll pray for you
  • God helps those who help themselves
  • Born again Christian
  • I’ve come to know the Lord
  • God always has a purpose…
  • Put it in the Lord’s hands

It’s not that these statements are wrong or misleading – they are just overused or undervalued.   We find comfort in being able to offer something that sounds positive.  If you don’t know what to say, use a cliche!  However, the classic “I’ll pray for you” is barely off our lips before we have completely forgotten what was just told to us.  It would be better to say nothing than to offer empty or forgotten promises.

So what’s the answer?  Changing the words will only replace one cliche for another.  The answer is in the heart.  When we offer or receive a cliche, we must do something with that statement to make it come alive.  Here’s one I heard recently and the more I thought about it, the more I wondered what it really meant.  “Give it to God

When we “give it to God‘ – whatever “it” is – are we just supposed to forget “it” and never think of “it” again?  We pray and tell God all about our problem or issue and then go right back to worrying about it and trying to solve it on our own.  We are like the yo-yo – we throw “it” at God and then pull “it” right back. That’s what makes this a cliche – we say the words but we don’t do the deed.  “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves…” (James 1:22).

5 Things to Consider – What we can do to “Give it to God

  1. Pray – Tell God all about it and ask for His intervention.  He wants to hear it from us – constantly!
  2. Gain – Expect to Gain something from the situation.  This is the ‘purpose‘ or ‘plan‘ that Christians always talk about.
    • growth, perspective, maturity, humility, grace, patience
  3. Lose – Look to Lose something from the situation.  Here is the infamous ‘pruning‘ that ‘removes the dross‘.
    • pride, arrogance, control, anger, bitterness
  4. Stop complaining or having a Pity Party.  Neither God or the rest of us want to hear it (sorry, a tad harsh!)
  5. Start remembering past blessings and answers to prayer.  If you can’t remember any, try reading Psalm 136 or 139.

This is not the final answer on how to deal with the difficult issues of life, but it should be a starting point.  Perhaps we should replace the Yo-Yo with a Wishing Well.  When you drop that coin into a wishing well, it is not only gone forever, but there is the hope that something better  – something greater is waiting for you.  This is not to say that “giving it to God” is equivalent to a magic wishing well or a lucky charm (No!  Not the magically delicious kind!).  God is not sitting idly by waiting to grant our wishes, but He is eagerly waiting for us to surrender our will to His and invite Him to do a great work within us.  So maybe the image we are trying to create is to throw our whole-selves into His care and trust Him to know what is best for us.  More cliches?  Perhaps, but if we really do them, maybe God does have a plan for us after all.

“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

 

Open Mic:  Share your thoughts

  1. What are some cliches that have not helped or some that have?
  2. How do you turn a cliche into something of worth and value?
-Michael G

6 Marks of Discipleship – #4 Abide

If you missed the Intro post in this series, be sure to read it.  It will provide more context around this series.

Jesus gives 6 very clear statements about being one of His followers or disciples.  These are not requirements for salvation or forgiveness; rather they are conditions or evidences of being His disciple.

  • Mark of Discipleship #1 Hate
  • Mark of Discipleship #2  Suffer
  • Mark of Discipleship #3 Forsake

The first 3 Marks of Discipleship are seemingly negative – on the surface.  They are designed to help us shed the old self (Colossians 3:9) The last 3 have a much more positive bent and are meant to develop the new self (Colossians 3:10).  But the goal remains the same – to make us better Followers of Christ; to make us Disciples! Continue reading

6 Marks of Discipleship – #3 Forsake

If you missed the Intro post in this series, be sure to read it.  It will provide more context around this series.

Jesus gives 6 very clear statements about being one of His followers or disciples.  These are not requirements for salvation or forgiveness; rather they are conditions or evidences of being His disciple.

Mark of Discipleship #1 Hate
Mark of Discipleship #2  Suffer

Mark of Discipleship #3:

“So then, none of you can be My disciples who does not give up all his possessions.”  Luke 14:33

The Call from Christ is to first, Hate; then Suffer; and now Forsake!  Where do I sign up?  There has got to be monastery someplace with my name on it! Continue reading

6 Marks of Discipleship – #1 Hate

If you missed the first post in this series, be sure to read it.  It will provide more context around this series.

Jesus gives 6 very clear statements about being one of His followers or disciples.  These are not requirements for salvation or forgiveness; rather they are conditions or evidences of being His disciple.  Here is the first:

“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”  Luke 14:26

Is Jesus really asking us to hate as a condition for following Him?  This statement comes from the Man who said the greatest commandment is to love God and love our neighbor as our self. Matthew 22: 37-40 Contradiction?  Confusion? or Comparison?

Perhaps you have read this story…its worth reading again:

Pearl-Necklace

 

The Pearl Necklace

The cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Continue reading

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