A Closer Walk: God Never Plays Games With Us

God never plays games with us. He never lies to us. He always shoots straight with us.

I believe that is why Jesus plainly said,

“And no one can be my disciple who does not carry his own cross and follow me. But DON’T BEGIN until you count the cost…” Luke 14:27-28Luke 14:27-28
English: World English Bible - WEB

27 Whoever doesn’t bear his own cross, and come after me, can’t be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and count the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?

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What could be plainer than that statement?

So, why don’t we believe Him?

God demands everything

Why do we play games?

(Because we do.)

In the Western Church we act like this “discipleship-thing” is some sort of a democratic club. We sing that God is supreme. We say that Jesus is our King. But, if things don’t go well? If we don’t get to have our say, or have our way? We bail out—plain and simple.

The sad truth most church statisticians agree upon.

We hate to be inconvenienced, and because of that, there are as many people going out the back door of our churches as are coming in the front door!

If we don’t get what we want, and by that I mean, the pastor’s length of sermon, the style of music, the style of service, a good parking spot, or our favorite seat—we find a way to say, “Bye-bye.” Suffering—REAL suffering—is definitely not on our agendas.

And that was me!

I was seriously thinking of bailing—and here was God—painting a picture of greater suffering?

I had lost my health, my job, and with it, all of my income, my good credit, my freedom and choice of movement, my church, all my church “friends” and now God was saying, “…things could get worse.”

Worse?

You bet I was re-thinking my discipleship!

I was raised in the democratic Church in the West.

We vote on everything and I wanted a VOTE on this kind of agenda!

All InIt’s all well and good to be sitting on my nice clean cushioned-seat, in my lovely safe air-conditioned church building, singing sweet songs about how much I love Jesus.

BUT, it was quite another to contemplate things getting much worse—while I was occupying my own personal ash pile!

What was I really signing up for?

Did I want this dream I had asked God to give me?

I mean, did I really want it—at any cost?

faith or control?God was using words like “danger” and “hardship” with no apologies for either, you bet I was thinking long and hard.

Did I love Jesus as much as I claimed?

His words, “… don’t begin until you count the cost.” was certainly clear enough.

It was time to decide.

I know it looked crazy, (It probably sounds crazy too.) but my answer was, “Yes.”

I said, “LORD, I don’t have any idea where the two of us are headed, but I’ve come too far to turn back now.”

I was scared.

Life already looked plenty grim.

But regardless—I decided—I was all-in.

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WHY DO YOU WEAR THAT FUNNY LOOK?

So you have chosen. Good. Good!

No turning back.

I AM glad you have chosen to  go on.

It had to be your decision.

You are surprised?

upgrade your faithHave I not chosen to bind Myself by men’s free will? What kind of relationship would choose to hog-tie the other’s free will? That is not friendship, that is slavery!

I AM no slaver!

I AM the Divine Lover.

I never force.

(No, it is not My way.)

I do want you to come away with Me—with all My heart I want this. I AM so jealous when you choose “another love” instead of Me.

I freely admit it  I AM crazy about you!

Why do you wear that funny look?

Had you not figured it out by now?

Did I not tell you?

I would move stars and planets for you!

I would make the sun stand still for you!

I would follow you to the deepest, darkest cave, to win your love!

(This you know is true.)

Let Me shout it, “I LOVE YOU BELOVED!”

Let Me whisper it, “I love you.”

I love you with an intensity you will never understand!

When you choose Me—freely choose Me—no matter the cost? When you lay your life down as you have chosen to do?

My Spirit soars!

You are My passion Sweetheart. I wanted you to know it now, and for all time…

I love you.

a closer walk

 

“But we have never turned our backs on God…”

Hebrews 10:39Hebrews 10:39
English: World English Bible - WEB

39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the saving of the soul.

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Never Losing the Light: Billowing Dust Beneath His Feet

terrors of cycloneI AM in every storm child.
Let that sink in…

(Selah.)

My word says,

“He shows His power in the terrors of the cyclone and the raging storms; clouds are the billowing dust beneath His feet.” (Nahum 1:3Nahum 1:3
English: World English Bible - WEB

3 Yahweh is slow to anger, and great in power, and will by no means leave the guilty unpunished. Yahweh has his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet.

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)

I re-arrange things by storm.

Is that not My sovereign right as Creator of it all?

Remember child, storms not only wreak havoc, they bring blessing.

I know it never seems that way at first—but, think. The fiercer the storm, the more stable everything becomes—afterward.

storm downed treeThe loose, the flimsy, the decayed, these are all removed.

Only that which:
First, is firmly rooted,
Second, with solid foundations…
⦁ Will remain steadfast and standing after the hurricane has swept by—yes?

The aftermath of storms causes everything to be re-evaluated.

Is this not a blessing in disguise?

It is the same in your life. The storm tests everything; removes the flimsy, and brings a re-evaluating.

tested by stormsThe lovely by-product is that you tend to run and embrace Me tighter than ever in a storm.

This is also a blessing in disguise.

(Well, disguised for you… not Me.)

Yes, all in all, I find great satisfaction in the storm.

I AM a Creator. I AM forever making things new. Storms are merely My servants. I send them to accomplish My will.

Your storms will save you child.

stormy seas

“My mercy and justice are coming soon; your salvation is on the way”

Isaiah 51:5Isaiah 51:5
English: World English Bible - WEB

5 My righteousness is near, my salvation is gone forth, and my arms shall judge the peoples; the islands shall wait for me, and on my arm shall they trust.

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C S Lewis quote

A Closer Walk: No Turning Back

This is one of my favorite things about God: He never wastes words. God can pack more punch, in less space, than the finest writers who have ever lived.

“Decide.”

On that one little word hung everything in my future.

I had come to some sort of fork in the road with God… and I knew it.

I remembered reading somewhere once, “The Lion of Judah is a WILD lion. Every time you try to cage Him, He will break loose in your life, and do the unexpected.”

The Lion of Judah

Was that what I had tried to do—cage God?

When I looked the idea square in the eye, it did seem ridiculous, in the extreme.

Did I still want the things I had prayed for?

Those things had sounded so wonderful when I had asked God for them. Healing hearts, encouraging the hopeless, gathering the broken, it had all sounded so good. But this road I found myself on was not the kind of road I had expected we would take to do all of that.

I hated what had happened.

Now there it was, the honest naked truth.

I was feeling like I had been mauled by that Wild Lion.

(That was honest, too.)

No head-faking-bull… that was our deal.

My heart felt frozen staring at my choices… my mind was reeling.

crossroads decisionWe used to sing a song at the church I served at. Every time someone was baptized and they would go down into the water, they would come up to the sounds of the church singing, “I have decided to follow Jesus… no turning back… no turning back.”

No turning back.

Yes, in my heart, I knew I was at a crossroads.

Whichever road I chose there would be no turning back.

From this point forward everything would be different…

(And it terrified me.)

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THE PATH

Child, seeing what you see now? Knowing what you know now? Would you forsake all your shame and suffering, and go back to that place of soft easy pleasure?

You have counted some of the cost to follow Me…

the right pathWould you change course; would you do things differently, if you could?

Before you go forward, these are questions you must honestly ask yourself.

Search your heart.

Think long and hard.

The path you’ve chosen is not an easy one. There are many stones along the way; jagged and cutting. There are briars and thorns. It is a narrow way, too. Many places along this path are wide enough for only two ~ you and I.

difficult paths & higher callings

I have been sifting you. (You already know this.) But, the time is fast approaching when I will begin to sift My Church.

(You will be more alone than ever.)

Can you… will you… still go with Me?

We have to decide this now, together.

What sets your soul on fire?

I have to know that you have looked at the danger and hardship, square in the face, and chosen freely, knowing what is to come.

You know Me well enough now to know that I will never leave you.

(I need to know the same about you.)

Make your choice.

a closer walk“It was by faith that Moses… refused to be treated as the grandson of the king, but chose to share ill-treatment with God’s people… he thought it was better to suffer…” Hebrews 11:24-26Hebrews 11:24-26
English: World English Bible - WEB

24 By faith, Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to share ill treatment with God’s people, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a time; 26 accounting the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked to the reward.

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Never Losing the Light: Desperate Faith

caught in stormWhen I look at you I see a magnificent ship caught up in a desperate and fierce gale; broken mast; tattered sails; but still afloat!

This hurricane you’ve sailed into has brought it’s damage for sure. I would never deny what you have endured.

But… you are carrying such a rich cargo!

No wonder the enemy has tried to sink you.

I know there were times you thought he would.

Never mind—doubt arising is not a sin.

(You have been mistaken about that.)

There are dark clouds of doubt in every storm.

dark clouds of doubt

The sin is in surrendering to them.

When the dark clouds of doubt surround you, you must listen for My footsteps. You must cry out for My aid. I will come bringing the Light of My word to guide you through the darkness.

Listen child. (hush) Be quiet now.

I AM coming, walking upon the waves of your storm, and when the time is right?

When patience has perfected you?

I will still the storm, never fear.

Doubt not Sweetheart, My love and care for you have not changed.

The storm has it’s purpose.

Lean on Me.

I AM your strength, remember?

I AM carefully observing all that is happening.

Nothing is beyond My righteous reach—nothing.

desperate faith

The damage you see is not as devastating as it looks.

Keep your eyes on Me.

Believe what you behold there.

I love your desperate faith.

(Really I do.)


we are all desperate

 

 

“Listen to Me, My people; listen O Israel, for I will see that right prevails… “

Isaiah 51:4Isaiah 51:4
English: World English Bible - WEB

4 Attend to me, my people; and give ear to me, my nation: for a law shall go forth from me, and I will establish my justice for a light of the peoples.

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A Closer Walk: Looking For Pain’s Logic

I could see the logic.

I mean, there are awful things going on in the world… and there are Christians who are suffering… dying… everywhere.

Where had I gotten the idea that the Bible taught I would always be kept safe from trouble?

When I started to search the scriptures again, it painted an honest and accurate picture of men and women who believed and trusted God, and yet suffered pain and loss, and sometimes even death. The scriptures were full of dirges and laments; songs of passionate questioning, pain, and deep sorrows.

Why had I believed that these songs would not someday be mine to sing?

I was being childish.

Who did I think I was to be entitled to a pain-free-life?

forgivenessI had wanted to only follow a safe God… a God who would always protect me from all hurt, in all circumstances. I decided I would listen more carefully to some of the teachers I had followed. Sure, they taught the Word of God, but I was beginning to see that they predominantly taught only one type of Truth. Yes, there is victory and prosperity for those who obey, trust, and believe… but sometimes, there is also sickness, suffering, sorrow, and loss.

As I began to honestly look at the stories of Joseph and Job; Isaiah and Jeremiah; the disciples of the early church, and the Apostle Paul in particular, my eyes beheld the worst kind of suffering. I had been taught that Paul was one of the greatest Christians that ever lived, and yet he suffered terribly for his faith. (And, who could have done more than he had?) Why had I believed that if I just, did enough… prayed enough… believed enough… declared enough—God would protect me from all harm? Wasn’t all my doing a sort of idoltry? Rub the magic lamp, or say a sincere prayer, and the genie will pop out and do my bidding?

performance condemnation trap

Wasn’t I really idolizing my own comfort; hoping for a way, or a formula, to manipulate God into giving me the comfortable and safe life that I wanted?

What selfish foolishness.

My eyes were open alright, and I was beginning to see, but I didn’t like what I saw.

(No, not one bit!)

I began to wonder if maybe, I really deserved all the bad stuff that had happened?

(Now I was really depressed.)

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SING!

Oh, My dear child, how I see you struggling to walk in freedom, but dear one, your jailers are not the condemnation of those around you. That is why you still struggle so.

(No, Sweetheart.)

The one who keeps you bound—is YOU!

Let Me explain.

making bricksYou grew up in terrible slavery. So did your parents, and their parents, etc., etc. Generations of “brick-makers” just like the children of long ago, enslaved to the Egyptians, making bricks. But you are no longer in Egypt child, yet you still have the voice of the evil taskmaster in your head. Instead of shouting, “Clay! Straw! Water!” he whispers, “Try harder! Do more! Perform!” and so you obey, and do, do, do… to the point of exhaustion.

But honey, I set you FREE.

What does My Word say?

“Who will set me free from my slavery to this deadly lower nature? Thank God! It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free.”    Romans 7:24-25Romans 7:24-25
English: World English Bible - WEB

24 What a wretched man I am! Who will deliver me out of the body of this death? 25 I thank God through Jesus Christ, our Lord! So then with the mind, I myself serve God’s law, but with the flesh, the sin’s law.

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The next time your old task-master whispers, “Do more. Try harder.” and you are tempted to begin laboring, by bending your back in the “brick-pits of performance,” remember who bought your freedom. (Me!) I have released you from “performance-condemnation” forever!

free to be myself

Remember the song…

I’m under the blood of the Lamb; who covers the guilt of my past. By the mercies of God, Holy and righteousness I stand. I’m under the blood of the Lamb; I’m safe and secure from the enemies hand…Sing, Sweetheart, sing…

Your song!

a closer walk

 

“So now there is no condemnation awaiting those who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:1Romans 8:1
English: World English Bible - WEB

8 1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don’t walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

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God Is Real & The Bible Is Truth with Kim Bond

He Speaks To Us In Songs of Deliverance

The Psalms have been songs of deliverance for me more than once. And so I go there, whenever I am struggling with anything—because it is there HE SPEAKS to me.

songs of deliverance

In those sweet songs I find comfort, I find healing, I find wisdom, instruction, and redemption. In those one hundred and fifty passages—I find HOPE!

They are the Bible’s most beloved poetical anthems of praise and glory to God!

It was C. S. Lewis who wrote,

“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with. . .

The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.”

― C. S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms 

So for as long as it takes, let us journey through this Book of Songs, looking for the reasons why we can TRUST God.

I believe we shall find such beauty growing there, that by the time we are finished, we shall have discovered our own Garden of Eden in it’s pages.

you are my hiding place

And, songs.

That, too!

There will be songs of deliverance, that shall bring with them, all manner of good things. We shall find messages that will bolster our strength and courage, as well as the substance and evidence, for our faith and trust in a God who passionately loves us.

As C S. Lewis encouraged us to do, we shall “complete our enjoyment” by consuming all the beauty we shall surely uncover there.

Come, let’s mosey together down ancient paths laid out for us thousands of years ago, gathering wildflowers from the darker vales of sadness and lament, as well as in the highland meadows with their prospects of hopefulness.

As we refresh ourselves here and there, by pools of still waters, we shall find His messages of love for us. Then, like Lewis we shall also be able to say,

“The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.”   

songs of deliverance