A Mother’s Prayer

2011. My prayer, “Lord, how do you want me to pray for this son?”

This verse was His answer. This one and psalm 107:1 & 1 Chronicles 16:34 { Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. }

I wasn’t sure that was a specific enough scripture to pray for a son. It seemed like a solid general prayer for neighbors, acquaintances & probably co-workers, but possibly not quite adequate for a son.

I questioned God’s choice. I did. If you know me in real life you’re not surprised by that.

You know, parents out there, I wanted a solid promise. An action. A game plan. I wanted a guaranteed conclusion.

God spoke softly to my heart because He knows me best. “Lisa, you want something you can manipulate and control. I Am asking you to trust Me, and simply pray this for the son you love because I love Him more.”

That has been true of His response to me as I have questioned His Sovereign Father guidance over both of our sons.

He continually reminds me to let go. He continually reminds me of His steadfast love. He continually reminds me that He is good.

For 10 solid years I have prayed a very simple prayer,
“I give thanks to You God for You are good and Your steadfast love endures forever for this son and that son and that dear man and me.”

It was always a prayer for me. Father God always intended to teach me about His goodness and His steadfast and enduring love. He continues to pursue me with His love continually reminding me to push away control and manipulation. He encourages me to embrace trust in Him alone.

I’m learning. 10 years in… I’m growing in trust and intimacy with my heavenly Father.

How about you, friend?

What does Father God want you to trust into His good and loving hands? With whom does He ask you to trust?

Have you asked Him for scripture? Let Him show you something of His word to pray for His word is His character. His word is His promise.

Will you pray with me?

“I give thanks to You God for You are good and Your steadfast love endures forever for _____________. Thank You, Father, for teaching me how to pray and trust and know You in a deeper way. I choose to trust Your character and Your good plans for ________________. I trust You to turn my heart from control and manipulation. I choose to trust Your love and goodness for me too. Thank You, God. Amen.”

Eyes on Jesus… You’re shining,

~Lisa

Could I have Tears for Christmas?

Advent. Anticipation. Christmas Eve. Nothing’s normal. Traditions are breaking in the harsh winds of 2020.

It’s a challenge to remember joy this year in the disappointment. To remember peace in all the confrontations. To remember  hope in all the broken traditions. To remember love when so many voices are spewing something other.

It’s a challenge. I am – moment by moment – challenged to remember Christ in me the hope of glory. Every little stop  – even Starbucks for a Christmas warm red cup treat – is ruined by a chastisement followed by “We’re out of peppermint”. 

My feelings are hurt by all the    confrontations, cancellations and general lack of kindness.  I want to cry because I’m so sad, but my defense mechanism kicks in and I respond with anger instead. By the time I arrive home, remove the mask, and finish berating myself for responding immaturely, I’m exhausted and don’t want to see another human for a significant amount of time.

The general bad mood of the world we’re living in at the present has a couple of positives though.

1. It’s causing me to recognize my own weaknesses. I am today able to recognize my desire for tears rather than angry responses. I hold out my imperfections to Jesus and ask Him to help me.

Somewhere along the path of life I allowed my tear reservoir to dry up. One too many times in my young life I was told that my tears were an unwelcome nuisance – a bother and inappropriate for an adult.

I can’t imagine now as a mature woman how I ever agreed that an angry response is more appropriate than tears. Anger is certainly a nuisance and unattractive, but righteous anger is far more acceptable in our world than honest, raw tears.

Honestly, this trade has to be in the top 5 worst agreements I’ve made throughout my nearly 6 decades of living on planet Earth. Tears are better.

Could I have tears for Christmas?

2. I am better able to reflect on the atmosphere of the culture into which our Savior was born. It is much easier today to feel the raw emotional state of a young woman possibly experiencing contractions while riding on a donkey and continually turned away from shelter.  She just wanted to obey God and fulfill her part of His plan.

I feel a connection with Mary today that I have never felt before. Maybe it was difficult for her too to remember that Jesus, her Savior, was filled up in her. Maybe it was hard for her to remember the correct Godly response in the face of her own disappointment, despair, and hurt feelings.

Maybe – though Christ filled her tangibly with His presence – she still struggled with raw emotional & appropriate responses. Perhaps there’s more to learn in 2020.

Jesus, help me! You fill me in much the same way You filled Mary. My true heart’s desire is to carry You well in a broken, sharp and cutting world. Help me to receive Your tears. Help me to weep over all that causes You to weep. Come forth in me and make Your presence known.

This is the gift I long for this Christmas. Please restore the reservoir of honest tears – the flow of Your living water in me and through me.

Merry Christmas, Jesus. Happy birthday. And merry (2020 style) Christmas to you readers. May you be filled with the tangible presence of Jesus and tears of abundant joy in the broken.

The Power of Words

Picture credit: @YouVersion Bible App

One of the first scripture verses I memorized in my toddling steps following after Jesus in my early twenties was 1 John 4:18.

I was tired of being fearful. A good friend and co-worker recommended that I memorize this scripture. This friend encouraged me to turn God’s word into a prayer – into a conversation with God.

I was desperate for relief from overwhelming fear and anxiety so I was willing to take his challenge.

In the darkest of storm clouds, God shines through. Picture credit: Lisa Brittain

I wrote this verse on an index card, and found myself saying this verse every few minutes the first few days. I carried my index card to work, kept it in my car, and memorized it in my heart.

Over the length of a month I recognized the power of God’s Word to transform my thoughts. Fear was taking a backseat to God’s love for me.

I still felt fearful and anxious many times. Don’t imagine I’m speaking of a magical incantation. The accuser did not immediately run away never to return.

A rainbow after the fiercest storm clouds. Picture credit: Lisa Brittain

However, the more I used the word of God as a sword in prayer, the more my thoughts were transformed. As my thoughts became transformed toward the mind of Christ, the more freedom I experienced.

All these years later, in world and personal circumstances I could have never forseen, this all time favorite scripture truth wields power and clarity in my prayers.

If you have a friend who sends you to the Word of God and challenges you to memorize, pray and study for life transformation, thank God for that friend right now. Thank You Father for giving us brothers and sisters who remind us to go back to Your Fatherly wisdom.

Picture credit: @YouVersion Bible App

If you don’t have such a friend, let’s ask Holy Spirit and Jesus to connect you with a Bible friend today. I know Father has a son or daughter near you and wants to introduce you. So be on the lookout for a new friend who loves God’s word and wants to help you  gain strength, courage and wisdom.

Lord Jesus, Father God, Holy Spirit, thank You for giving us Your word and for connecting us with brothers and sisters in Christ who challenge, love and sharpen us for Victory in living a life that brings honor to Your name!

Standing on tiptoes to see how You are going to answer our requests…

Eyes on Jesus and Shine,

~Lisa

#eyesonjesusandshine #wordofGod #swordofthespirit
#nofear #love #transformation

Secret Place

Day 100. This morning as I look over the 12 posts written, but still sitting in my WordPress draft box, I am cognizant of one truth. Events are changing faster than I can form thoughts with words.

92 days from Ash Wednesday was Wednesday, May 27, 2020, and just 48 hours preceding a long awaited and anticipated celebration of Pentecost.

On that day, I dared to think we might have come through the worst…

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Day 92. Psalm 92.
92 days since Ash Wednesday. Isn’t it interesting to look back over the last 3 months and see from the rear view mirror what we didn’t see coming toward us?

I’m amazed and in awe actually that God led me a number of years ago to practice the spiritual discipline of Lent. He taught me about fasting and prayer through a season of life.

So this year 2020 I was ready to hear His call to pull in and sit still. I was ready to forego some things. I was ready to dig into the psalms from 1 to 40.

I was ready and actually longing for the secret place of communion with God.

Now looking in my rearview mirror, I recognize that Holy Spirit led me three months ago into His secret place under His wing knowing that soon we would be put into a global time-out.

I see His hand directing my path. I trust my Good Shepherd. I believe He is good experientially because He’s carried me through the hardest days of my life. Because He’s kept His promise to never leave me through the fire and the flood of previous seasons I’ve been able to trust His Love and Faithfulness now.

Day 92. Pentecost is coming.
Come Holy Spirit. I’m waiting for You. I am waiting in the secret place.

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Just as my thoughts dared wander toward daylight at the end of a long dark virus threatened tunnel, storm clouds gathered and built and spilled again with a heavy sadness. Tears. Mournful cries. More grief. Pain. Peaceful voices desiring justice – a change that must come now – were hijacked.

Chaos spilled into our streets, and the news broke into the secret place where I was participating in a Pentecost worship service. We were singing “Come Holy Spirit…” We were praying for God to hear our cries for help and to have mercy on our land. We were boldly approaching the Throne of God on behalf of all the oppressed and asking for justice to prevail in our land.

As I listened, with disheartened eyes closed, to the report of violence in the streets of our city, I began to see a vision. Police officers on one side and protesters on the other. An angry invisible wall between the two sides. Suddenly I saw supersized men dressed in police uniform moving boldly through the ranks of the human police officers. I somehow knew these supersized men were an angelic host.

The angel officers walked confidently toward the protesters with their arms opened wide – no weapons – and they spoke only three words. Over and over, the angel officers spoke out, “I love you, I love you, I love you…” They moved across the wall of anger and embraced protesters with bear hugs continuing to speak, “I love you, I love you, I love you…”

As I watched this amazing move of love in my mind’s eye, I asked the Lord, “What do You want me to do with this vision?” His answer was the simple response of a loving Father to His little daughter, “Ask Me to do this in your land.”

I’m asking. Many times a day. Every time I see a news report. Each time I see a police car. Every time I walk my beautifully diverse neighborhood. I am asking my Father to do this in our land. I wonder if you might ask Him right along side me.

Can we stand arm in arm and ask our Good Good Father to win a VICTORY of love with arms spread wide?

I believe He will. He already did through His Son, Jesus Christ, hanging on a cross. His arms spread wide indicating, “I love you, I love you, I love you…”

We can trust His faithfulness and promises because He’s always been true to His Word.

Friend, see me moving toward you with a hug, arms spread wide, and please hear me, “I love you, I love you, I love you…”

Eyes on Jesus, you Shine!

~Lisa

Lavish Grace & Steadfast Love

Prodigal, what does it really mean?

I’ve pondered long over this English word and its meaning for a number of days now.  Knowing how the word is most often used I felt sure I knew the definition.  So, without looking it up in a dictionary, I wrote out my own definition of the word prodigal.Genesis 3.9 esv BP

From my journal: one who has wandered far from home; one who set out to have his/her own way leaving their upbringing behind; taking one’s belongings and setting out alone.

Wanting to be accurate, however, I decided to consult the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.  Maybe you already know, but I was a bit taken back by the true and actual definition of the word.

prodigal: characterized by profuse or wasteful expenditure: lavish; recklessly spendthrift; yielding abundantly: luxuriant.  synonyms: extravagant, profligate, spendthrift, squandering, thriftless, unthrifty, and wasteful.

My eyes locked onto the word {lavish} and my heart skipped a beat.  Instantly I was reminded of the Lord’s tenderness toward me a few years back as He chose {lavish} to be my one-word focus for that particular year.  I wondered then if the word was actually found in scripture and was delighted to find this precious truth nugget in God’s Word.

In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.  Ephesians 1:7-8 niv

During that year, as I prayed and asked Holy Spirit to be my teacher regarding His idea of lavish, Holy Spirit placed in my heart an acronym for the word based on the truth of our Christ bought identity found in Ephesians 1:1-13.

Loved

Accepted

Victorious

Innocent

Secure

Holy

For the entire year, and still to this very day, the Lord continually reminds me of His lavish grace for me, and the true identity He has given me as an adopted daughter purchased by the blood and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I myself am the prodigal daughter of the good King.  Additionally, I am the prodigal mother of prodigal sons for whom I pray continuously.  With gratitude and anticipation, I often ask Father for their return home and into their true identity as sons of God, knowing He did this very thing for me.Lavish-ly loved daughter BP

Today though, I continue to ponder the word prodigal with even greater enthusiasm because of the word’s true meaning.  Instead of a focus on leaving or turning away, the true focus of the word is extravagant spending and luxurious gifting.  Who but God is the epitome of extravagance in sending His own Son to be the perfect Sacrificial Lamb in our place?

It is my honor to be a guest writer with Beloved Prodigal today.  Please click here to finish reading my story of Lavish Grace & Steadfast Love with the Beloved Prodigal community of Jesus followers and prayer warriors on behalf of many prodigals.

 

“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  Isaiah 55:6-8

Lessons of a Good Father

Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.  It is not up in heaven so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”  No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.  Deuteronomy 30:11-14

In Deuteronomy 30:15, God sets out very simplistic choices for His people.  He sets before us a choice of life and prosperity or death and destruction.  Immediately, He tells us how to have the best choice of the two.  Then, like a good Father, very clearly and concisely, tells us the consequences of turning away in disobedience.choose life

Today I am reminded of a story our late pastor often told about disciplining his children in love.  He wanted to teach them to stay out of the street.  So, he set up a boundary for his children and told them not to cross it.  Repeatedly, he told his children the truth that they could get hit by a car possibly resulting in death.  His children continued to disregard the boundary, which frustrated and saddened their father.

Finally, a brilliant idea came to mind.  He would show them the consequences of disobedience by running into the street.  He took a watermelon outside, and when he glimpsed a car coming down the street, he rolled the watermelon across the boundary line and in front of the car.  As you can imagine the car squashed the watermelon.  The children wide-eyed and a bit overwhelmed caught the lesson.  Our pastor gathered his children in his arms and spoke to them of his love for them and his desire that they not become like the watermelon.

Our God is good and in His Fatherly love for us He makes His desire for us very clear.  And yet He lets us choose – life or death, blessing or curses.  Let’s choose to love the LORD, our God and obey Him.  Let’s choose life!

Buddy Hoffman

This story is shared in remembrance of my late pastor – Buddy Hoffman.  I am grateful he answered God’s call to preach.  I’m even more grateful he shared stories that live on as they are passed along like the one I’ve shared here today.  We’ll all catch up soon for a cup of coffee and stroll down the streets of New Jerusalem with Jesus leading the tour this time!

 

 

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I have the honor and privilege of writing weekly devotionals for Daughter of Delight on Instagram.  This post with some slight variation was first posted as an original devotional for Daughter of Delight on Instagram – 2/3/2018.

I invite you to please take a moment to visit @daughterofdelight on Instagram.  I feel certain you’ll be encouraged and refreshed!

Eyes on Jesus… you’re shining!

~Lisa

What happened 30 years ago today?

November 1987:  Orlando Florida.

A young couple, having dated for about a year, planned to be engaged at some point during the month of November.  She wanted to be surprised.  He didn’t.  He wanted certainty, “Don’t ask the question unless you already know the answer”, he would later teach his sons.100_5325

She desired six months to plan a wedding.  He calculated six months to the desired May wedding date and declared, “One day in November you’ll be surprised with a ring.”  Each morning she arose with anticipation.  “Would today be the day?”  She was keenly aware of details around her… at every turn, she looked for an indication of the impending surprise.

As the days of the month passed the tension grew.  Each day someone asked.  Friends looked at her hand for evidence the day had arrived.  She didn’t know it at the time, but the waiting was much like the anticipation of the baby’s due date.  Waiting…  not her favorite… oh but the anticipation!  The expectation of a JOYFUL surprise?  Yes, she delighted in this kind of waiting.

So, as the weekend approached in the middle of the month, there was a usual Friday night date night planned.  Co-workers wondered and giggled with delight.  This had to be IT!  He was taking her to the Bubble Room in Orlando.  This was THE place where engagements happened in 1987.  The ring would be in the Bubble Room cake brought out at the end of the meal.  And he would be on his knee while she tried to figure out how to wear a diamond covered in cake and icing???dip

They did go to the Bubble Room that Friday night.  She wasn’t able to fully enjoy her meal because of the butterflies in her stomach and then there was no cake and no ring and no knee in the middle of the restaurant.  This wasn’t it.  Had he played a cruel joke on his beloved?  Surely not…

He being the mischievous type would not follow the pattern of many others before him.  The Bubble Room was too obvious.  He, not being one for a mess, would not allow the diamond he purchased to be stuck in the middle of food.  And what if they lost the ring?  No, this was not his style, but teasing was very much his style.

So, how could he make it up to her?  He offered to drive them to New Smyrna Beach for a moonlit stroll on the beach.  Walking in the sand, with waves playing on their feet and a warm November breeze flying across their faces while they walk-talked, yes that’s the way to put a comforting end to a stressful and disappointing evening.

And then, under the full moon on New Smyrna Beach, he stopped and took her hand.  In the privacy of the two and before God Himself, he placed the ring on her finger.  He asked for a lifetime already sure of her answer!  And she did not disappoint.beach heart

YES!  She said, “Yes!”  Thirty years later, we are realizing we had no idea the impact of our yes.  We had no way of comprehending the path ahead.  We just knew we would travel together.  And here we are remembering…30 years ago…  November 1987.

Eyes on Jesus… you’re Shining, Suntanned Feet Man!

~Lisa

 

Day 18: May I {share} what I have with you?

After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.  All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.  The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all.  There were no needy people among them because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.  Acts 4:31-35share

To {share} is truly God’s idea.  With a focus on sharing we can see from the creation of the world in which we live, God chose to share His creation with us.  And truly this morning I’m struck with a fresh awareness should God choose not to share with me, I would have nothing – not even air in my lungs.

So, as much as I think on any given day I’ve come up with a great idea to share something of what I have with someone else, I have to stop and give thanks to God for sharing that idea with me.  Pondering on the word share for today, my mind first landed in the book of Acts, the early church gathered together in community sharing what they had with each other so that the needs of everyone were met.

I’m wondering if God’s definition of community is sharing.  If we were to look in Father’s dictionary would we find community and sharing as synonyms.  I myself am fairly convinced this is so.  Again gleaning truth from the book of Ruth, I see a similar community of sharing and taking care of one another portrayed.

Certainly, Naomi shared her home with Orpah and Ruth.  Later, Ruth shared Naomi’s home and God and people in Bethlehem of Judah.  The women of Bethlehem welcomed Naomi home and took Ruth in as one of their own.

Boaz shared his field with Ruth and certainly many other women who would glean in his fields throughout the harvest.  Significant here though is that Boaz showed a special kindness to Ruth, a foreigner, by allowing her to share in the harvest.  By sharing with Ruth, Boaz was also sharing with Naomi as was right for a near kinsman.

Naomi shared with Ruth the ways of God Almighty and the Laws of Moses.  As was discussed yesterday regarding discipleship, Naomi prepared Ruth for becoming the wife of their near kinsman and taught her the way of being redeemed.

And then Boaz stepped in.  Boaz had something more than grain he could share with the women to help sustain them.  He had a voice, a good reputation and standing in the community.  Boaz took up their cause at the gate, publicly sharing Naomi’s desire to sell her husband’s property.31 days gleaning bushel of wheat

Boaz was the first to speak up for the widows, Naomi and Ruth, however, respectfully he shared the opportunity to redeem Naomi’s property with the man who was to have the first option – the nearest kinsman.

I hope you’ll read these beautifully insightful scriptures for yourself…the whole book of Ruth, particularly here Ruth 4, with a focus on what it means to live in community and share – not just with those who are of the Church, but strangers in our communities as well.

Certainly, I have gleaned much from these passages, and I’m asking…

Lord Jesus, teach me again today through Your word and by the counsel of Holy Spirit what You want me to know about community – where I live and work and shop and exercise.  Reveal to me Lord moment by moment what I have in my hands that I might share with someone I meet today.  And more than what I have in my hand, help me to always remember I have You to share with everyone I meet.  For Your Glory, Jesus… amen.

Boaz went to the town gate and took a seat there. Just then the family redeemer he had mentioned came by, so Boaz called out to him, “Come over here and sit down, friend. I want to talk to you.” So they sat down together.  Then Boaz called ten leaders from the town and asked them to sit as witnesses.  And Boaz said to the family redeemer, “You know Naomi, who came back from Moab. She is selling the land that belonged to our relative Elimelech.  I thought I should speak to you about it so that you can redeem it if you wish. If you want the land, then buy it here in the presence of these witnesses. But if you don’t want it, let me know right away, because I am next in line to redeem it after you.”  Ruth 4:1-4

Ponders:

What do you think?

  • Are the ideas of community and sharing synonymous?
  • What scriptures come to mind when you think of God sharing and people sharing?
  • Will you ask Holy Spirit to enlighten your heart about sharing?
    • what you have to share?
    • who you are able to share with?
    • do you agree you always have Jesus to share with anyone you meet?
      • what might it look like to share Jesus today?
      • what has sharing Jesus looked like in the past?

Eyes on Jesus…you’re Shining

~ Lisa

 

Saturday Share with Brandon Garrett: Jesus is Not a Vending Machine

Saturday Share coffeeWelcome to Saturday Share!  I am thrilled and honored Brandon Garrett, fellow Jesus follower, and local church plant pastor agreed to write a guest post for Eyes on Jesus and Shine.  I hope you’ll settle in with a hot cup of something yummy and then fasten your seatbelt.

I know this is Brandon’s story, but I need this truth just as much.  I’m challenged with the same question of myself, which Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”  Maybe Brandon and I are the only ones, but somehow I think we’ll all be rocked, challenged and transformed from the inside out as we ponder what Brandon offers us today from his current personal journey with Jesus.

Thank you, Brandon, and bless you on your journey…

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Jesus is Not a Vending Machine

by Brandon Garrett

 

I fear we have massively misunderstood Jesus. And by we, I first mean me. I have spent most of my life engaging Jesus as a sort of vending machine. No one loves a vending machine for being an exemplification of superb mechanical engineering. No one marvels at the precision of its delicate electronics. People love vending machines because they give them what they want it.

We come to a vending machine with our merit, our money that we have earned, in order to exchange it for the object of our desire. In short, we bring what we have earned and exchange it for what we want. That’s how I often treat Jesus. I give my good deeds to Jesus—my Bible reading, my praying, and my being a really nice person—and get whatever I want from Jesus. If I wanted a nice car and a good job and a loving family from Jesus, then I could give my good deeds to Jesus in order to obtain them. Here’s the uncomfortable truth: Jesus will have no part with those who wish to treat him like a vending machine.

pablo (80)

In Luke’s gospel, a rich ruler approaches Jesus wanting Jesus to give him eternal life. He poses the question, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18.18). The rich ruler is even so audacious to claim that he has kept all of God’s commandments (Luke 18.21)! He thinks he can come to Jesus and trade in his commandment-keeping for eternal life. Put commandment-keeping in, get eternal life out. So it understandably comes as quite the shock when Jesus responds, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Luke 18.22). This cuts right to the heart of the issue. Jesus is asking whether this rich ruler actually loves Jesus as an end in and of himself or if he loves Jesus as a means to his own selfish end. Jesus is asking the question, “Do you really want me or do you merely want the benefits you think I can provide you?” With Jesus’ statement, the rich ruler is left bare. His motives are exposed and his loves brought to light. “But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich” (Luke 18.23). He did not want Jesus. He wanted his own riches.

“Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Like I so often do, the rich ruler wanted Jesus on his own terms. He wanted to gain Jesus’ life while sacrificing nothing of his own. He envisioned a fabricated world where he could have as much of his life and as much as Jesus as possible. Then Jesus shattered it because to have Jesus, we must lose everything else. When Jesus says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9.23), it is not a suggestion. It is a mandate. Denying ourselves and our rights and our ambitions and our plans and our bank accounts is not an optional add-on to discipleship. It is a prerequisite. We can either have Jesus alone, or we cannot have him at all.

Too much is at stake to deceive ourselves into thinking that we can manipulate Jesus and minimize his demands on our lives in order to preserve ourselves. “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it” (Luke 17.33) is the paradox of following Jesus. We and all that we hold so dear in this life will be lost and perish forever if we do not part with it for the sake of Christ in this life. Yet here is the precious promise of Christ: when we forfeit our life, our calendar, our job, our everything, into the hands of Christ, what he gives in return is more than we could ever earn or even dream—life with him. Upon surrender, Christ sweeps us up into his embrace and gives us “everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1.3).

 When Christ demands we surrender our everything, he does so assure us that nothing we possess is necessary for life and godliness. On the contrary, it is a hindrance to it. Should we treat Jesus like a vending machine, desiring to exchange what we have and what we have earned for his benefits, we could never afford them. Worse still, we would forfeit the greatest benefit of all in unending, unbroken communion with Jesus, the incarnate God in whose “presence there is the fullness of joy and at whose right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16.11).

 All of this is real time for me. Over the past few months, Jesus has made demands upon my life that have exposed what I truly desire. Three months ago, he called my family to sell our house on a big lot in a quiet neighborhood in a good school system. That was the easy part. Surely if we agreed to that, we could exchange our obedience for an even bigger house. Put my obedience in and get what I want out. Except that didn’t happen. He then called us to buy a house that is less than half the size of our previous house, on a smaller lot, is on the main road and not in a quiet neighborhood, and the public school system is failing. Selfishly, I want none of those things. However, the gracious kindness of Jesus is that he knows my selfish desires will kill me, and he demands I lay them aside and follow him into abundant and everlasting life. So he what he demands from me is always for my good. What he demands me to lay aside is only the allusion of comfort at best and masquerading poison at worst. Likewise, what he demands me to lay hold of has only the appearance to my selfishness of discomfort and inconvenience at worst and is eternally radiant glory and infinitely deep joy at best.

“presence there is the fullness of joy and at whose right hand are pleasures forevermore”

I do not get to define the terms of my discipleship. Jesus does. I do not get to negotiate with Jesus under what conditions I will follow him. Jesus has made those conditions clear. I either follow Jesus on his terms or I do not follow him at all. He is not a vending machine for my convenience, he is the Sovereign Savior who demands my obedience for my good. For his promise to Peter, who also left a home to follow Jesus, still stands. “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life” (Luke 18.29-30).

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Garrett family

 

Brandon is the church planting pastor at Mountain Park FBC currently working to plant a church in Stone Mountain Village. He is husband to Emily and father to Elizabeth Ann, Whittaker and Olivia.

He blogs at The Beautiful Tension and you can follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Garrett

FMF: To speak and not just talk

fmf logo

Thursday night at 10 PM, before I turn in for the night, I look forward to the reveal of the Five Minute Friday #FMF word prompt from Kate Motaung.  I’m going to sleep on the this week’s word {speak} with a whispered prayer for revelation while I rest.

I’ll be back in the morning to set my timer on 5 and it’s go time…

Join the Five Minute Friday link up here.

{SPEAK}

I’ve always been a talker.  At least from my perspective, I’ve always been a talker.  I’m pretty sure that I talked in the womb.  Probably not out loud, but in my head.

As a child, I followed my mother around the house…talking.  I told her everything I was thinking.  I’m sure it was tiring at times.  Other times cute.  Many times my babbling kept her company.  Possibly the sound of my voice at times was soothing.  However, as I got older there came a time when my talking for talk’s sake became irritating and noisy and obnoxious.

Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.

2 John 6

I awoke this morning thinking of the difference between talking and speaking.  And a couple of Scriptures came to mind.

As a follower of Jesus, I am an Ambassador… a representative of Him for the Kingdom of God.  I am obligated out of His love for me, and I love Him too, to speak truth filled with His LOVE.

grafitti Jesus
The Love of Jesus speaks louder than all the other voices.

There’s enough noise in the world.  Our daily atmosphere is filled with noisy gongs and clanging symbols.  A heart filled with love places on the tongue a peace-filled message as sweet as honey, as melodic as a lullaby.  This speaker of truth can truly be heard within the noise of the universe.

I’m so thankful Holy Spirit is accomplishing this transformational work in me – even to be able to speak through writing.

How is Holy Spirit teaching you to speak the truth of God in His love?

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

1 Corinthians 13:1 nlt