On Living and Dying in Christ


“I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus…” 1 Corinthians 1:4

I digress. Today is a day to digress from Ezekiel momentarily. Today is a day to deal with the heart a different way. Today is a day of heart that hurts and rejoices at the same time. Today is a day to learn not only the meaning, but what it means to handle that living is for Christ and that dying is gain, not just because it’s good to reiterate what Paul says, but because what Paul says is true. To live in Christ is what life is all about. We were created to glorify God with all our being. Christ redeemed us to enable us to live out our purpose in and for God. But dying and how we die is the culmination of that life and whether it really is surrendered and really is about having faith in our Creator. It’s pretty easy to say, “Oh, how wonderful it would be to be with God.” And then it’s easy to not want to leave what we know, and to not embrace the leaving of the ones we love.

Today is a story of learning to trust God for one I love. It’s a learning to rejoice in every breath the Lord gives and learning to rejoice when God takes away that breath because it’s His time to do so, for His perfect reason. It’s a time to learn to trust without understanding why, except that God IS good, or rather God IS GOOD. It’s a time to release someone from seeing in the mirror partly and knowing partly, to rejoicing in them seeing and knowing fully and being fully seen and known. It’s a time to not cause others to weep, but to joy in God’s eternal plan.

It’s so easy to talk about that eternal plan with what seems like joy, and then to turn around and want to divert the “eternity” part when it approaches. But the race isn’t finished until we cross that line. Who wants to keep running a race without ever finishing? Not me.

Paul says there is a reason for running a race. Everyone in the race is running, aren’t they? But who receives the prize? Who takes hold of the prize? Everyone all at once? No. The one who runs it to the end, the one who ran so they could grasp the prize, the one who strives for mastery, who struggles or contends the most for it. That word is agonizomai. Actually, the word used here is sunagonizomai, agonizing together. We’re not in this stuff alone. None of us. Jesus knows what it’s like. Look at the garden.

Don’t think you are alone in your feelings about it being hard to leave this world and to suffer on the way out. Don’t think it’s not hard to walk with someone through this. Jesus knows. He felt it. “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from me.” But that wasn’t the end of the story. “Nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) Yes, there is agony. Don’t tell me Jesus didn’t walk through agony of body and agony of spirit. He wept blood. But this is the heart of God that He would accept this agony for our sake to return us to Him in glory. But remember also how Jesus asked others to watch and pray with Him? What did they do? They slept. They didn’t know how to agonize together with Him.

It’s ok to weep. It’s ok to sorrow. But it’s better to agonize together by expressing God’s heart for the one we love. If my friend were lost from God, it wouldn’t just be a time to weep over her lostness. While there is still life, it would be a time to share that agony of my desire for her that maybe her heart would understand the longing of God for her. But my friend is not lost. My friend has been found. My friend is on the side with Jesus. She’s sitting in the garden and awaiting the day because it’s approaching and she knows it and I know it and she’s needing those who love her to stay and watch with her.

It’s not a time to think selfishly. Heck yeah, I’m going to miss her like I can’t describe. She’s a God gift at just the right time, not only to me, but to others. But that’s just it. She’s a God gift. She’s God’s first and foremost. She was created to the glory of God, not me, not her husband, not her children, not her friends, not her grandchildren. And she has glorified and is glorifying God before each of us. We can agonize together for God’s glory to shine even more brightly in every day and every hour and every second she is given. This is what life is. Remember, “For me to live is Christ.” Is it really? For my friend it is.
What’s the prize she’s running for? Is it just to have lived a good life? Is that what we run for as believers? Or is the prize really Christ? Is the prize really to finally dwell in the house of the Lord, in His presence forever? What are we running to grasp, to obtain? What is worth struggling for and agonizing for and contending with every adversary over? Was it a good life or is it full unity, with no bars held back, with God? Are we running to grasp and be grasped in the overwhelmingly perfect full fledged life and love of God in Christ? Are we fighting the good fight, the fight that is above all fights, the fight that is worth agonizing together over?

If Jesus could fight that fight alone, when He didn’t want to be alone because God was so worth it, then I can learn from His example. First and foremost, no one has to agonize alone because Jesus ran the race first. He won the prize and grasped the presence of God for us even when no one else understood. Yet, because of that, He always understands and intercedes and is there with us, never leaving and never forsaking us as we walk out our calling in Him. But He also gives our companions the ability to agonize together with us, to not only pray in the garden with us, when we would normally be sleeping, but to encourage us in the race, even from across the world.

The truth of the matter is that we are more than sisters and brothers. I can’t help but think of Proverbs 18:24 where it says, “there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” Which brought me to Genesis 2:24. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” What? Sticking close and cleaving are both from the same verb root, dabaq. They’re both about cleaving. It’s about “deliberate commitment to stick together.” (Skip Moen)

Get the call? It’s about something more than emotions, yet it involves the deepest emotions. This is the culmination of what we really believe and putting it to practice. Who do I believe Jesus is? Am I willing to let Him be all that He is for my loved one? Will I deliberately commit to stick together with her and with Him in the midst of the greatest test of her life? Am I willing to agonize together, to joy together, to be there together, to stay awake and pray, or blog together so that she not only knows that Jesus is with her and understands, but that by the grace of God, I will stay awake in the garden of her journey with her and rejoice with her or just hold her hand, even if it is in my heart and we are 8458.6 or so miles apart (the distance of Manila, Philippines from College Station, Texas)?

Which brings me back to 1 Corinthians 1:4 and beyond. I am so thankful for every minute of my sisters life that I get to share with her. I have been blessed to see God’s grace shed through her to me and to others around the globe as well as her own family. She is running the race well, with her eye on the prize of Jesus Christ. It shows, because He has enriched her life in Him in what she does and how she does it, in who she is and whose she is, in the things that she says and what she knows. Her life is a testimony of the work of Christ confirmed in her. Yeah, that’s my sister. We’re united in him. That’s closer than blood.

Here she is, nearing the end of the race, unless God intervenes differently, which He is free to do and extends that race on earth, but He’s given her every gift she needs. She’s not lacking anything. Her eternal bags are packed and ready for something that’s greater than an international flight. See, in all these things in life, she is overwhelmingly conquering through the One who loves her. Right now, she’s in the final moments of the football game, where her team has already won 74 to 0 and she’s just biding time as the coach shouts from the sideline, “You’ve already won. Keep playing ‘till it’s ours.”
Thank God, our heavenly Coach, never leaves our side. Thank God that He enables us to watch and pray and rejoice with our brothers and sisters no matter where we are, because we can be friends that cleave to one another closer than siblings, because we can truly be united in Christ. And we can rejoice together as God confirms Himself fully in our loved ones lives, making them blameless through Christ, and not only calling them into fellowship with Him here on earth, but walking with them into that full fellowship of joy unspeakable and mercy unimaginable with Him where this will be fully experienced. Yeah, that’s something. That’s something worth living for together. And that is something worth dying for. That’s the race we run. Death isn’t the end; it leads to the fulfillment of attaining the fullness of our prize, or rather our Prize—Christ.

Run well, Sister. Jesus isn’t the only one by your side. You have a cloud of witnesses that have gone on before, that have set an example of trusting faith, of hearing God and doing which is the proof of your believing. And you are a witness to each of us and may we be witnesses alongside of you as we walk this journey with you, because we are not alone. We have Christ and we have the body of Christ in unity and the body agonizes together and lives together and walks together and rejoices together and remains together no matter which side of eternity we dwell in as long as we dwell in Him. You are forever my sister. We’re part of the same body, I’m not sure what parts we are (I’m probably one of the uncomely parts, but at least I’m a part!) Hey, we’re in this together forever because our God is eternal and we live and breath in Him. Let’s do it. Let’s run this race to the end of one life and into the rest of it. The Goal is waiting for us with arms wide open. Whoever gets there first won’t have to imagine anymore what it will be like. You’ll know. And isn’t that what we’ve been praying for and walking towards?


To Untwisted Humility


Photo credit to bibleplaces.com


“Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his multitude: ‘Whom are you like in your greatness?’” Ezekiel 31:2

Maybe that’s a question we all ought to ask ourselves. “Who am I like in my ‘greatness’?” First of all, who am I comparing myself to? Am I really comparing myself to Greatness itself? Who am I lining myself up with? Do I think more of myself than I ought?
Maybe Pharaoh should have thought more about who he was comparing his greatness to. I mean, it wasn’t like he wasn’t great. Egypt had been a world power and then had been subjugated by Assyria but had made a comeback. Smaller nations looked to them as great again. The Expositor’s Bible says that verse 3, where it tells about the Assyrian, should be translated as “T’asshur,” which is the name of the sherbin tree, which was a cedar in Lebanon that was unrivaled among the other stately forest trees.

Egypt was like that great tree. But how did he get like that great tree? How did he get to be so great like this cedar in the garden of God that the others “could not hide him: the fir trees were not like his bough, and the chestnut trees were not like his branches; nor any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty”? Was he so great and beautiful for himself? If so, why is the picture of God’s garden? Was everything in God’s garden created for it’s own esoteric majesty? Or was it created from and for the majesty of something greater?

Who made Egypt great? Who made the greatness of the cedar? “I have made him fair by the multitude of his branches: so that all the trees of Eden, that were in the garden of God, envied him.” Who said that? God. God had made him, Egypt, so great that others noticed and envied his greatness. God did it. God made Egypt great because all greatness comes from God. Without God there is no greatness.

What happened to Egypt. “Therefore thus says the Lord God; ‘Because you have lifted up yourself in height, and he has shot up his top among the thick boughs, and his heart is lifted up in his height; I have therefore delivered him into the hand of the mighty one of the heathen; he shall surely deal with him: I have driven him out for his wickedness.’” What was the wickedness? It was puffing up his own greatness and forgetting where all good things and therefore all great things come from.

Let me think about that. “His heart is lifted up in his height.” His heart. That’s not just about his emotions. That’s about his mind, will, and emotions. It’s the part that drives the way I think and the actions I take. It’s the me of me. Only here it’s the me not as I was created to be, but the me that I desire to make myself to be. It’s the me that I lift up, that I raise. It’s when I exalt myself, my ways, my will, my emotions above God’s. It’s a haughtiness and pride. It’s presumptuousness and pride. It’s setting myself up. Actually, Strong’s Concordance says the word ruym even means to breed worms. Yep, I think when this is my philosophy of life, as it was for Pharaoh, it’s truly creating a can of worms. And when you think about it, being a worm isn’t something to be proud of.

When David cries out, in words that expressed his heart and humbleness before God, in words that also spoke prophetically from the heart of the Messiah, we hear, “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.” Here’s David, king of Israel, a worm? It’s a different word than ruym. It’s tola, and a more of a maggoty type of worm used to dye clothes scarlet. Think about that. Did David see himself as something great in himself? Obviously not at this moment. Shortly after this in Psalm 22:8 he continues, “He trusted on the Lord that He would deliver him: let Him deliver him, seeing He delighted in him.” God was his establisher and rescuer. And what of Jesus? I mean, come on, Jesus was the Son of God. You can’t get much higher than that? How did Jesus’ heart handle that knowledge? How did He handle that pat on the back, that commendation?

Let’s look at that question. How can I look at how Jesus, the Son of God, the Top Dog of top dogs, handled His authority and His power? How can I be put into a proper perspective of my own life from His? Paul thought about this. He shared his thinking with others. He lived by this thinking, this understanding and fellowship with Christ in God. As a matter of fact, he calls it encouragement in Christ. He calls it encouragement in Christ that gives comfort from love and that is all about participation with the Holy Spirit, affection and sympathy, completeness of joy, unity of mind and love. It’s devoid of selfish ambition or conceit. Wow, that’s just the opposite of Pharaoh’s problem, isn’t it? It counts others as worth more than myself and lifts their significance above mine, which must mean that I’m thinking about God’s significance more than mine.

It’s not like I don’t have concerns for myself. I still need food and shelter and love and other things. But it’s not just about me when I look through God’s perspective. I’m not alone. There’s this world with others in it affected just like me, with needs just like me, and maybe even greater. It’s bigger than me and better than me and interrelated with others. But it’s not just about us either. This whole encouragement is that it’s all wrapped up in God. And I can’t get the true gist of life without understanding how to look at it and understand it through the mind of Jesus Christ. If I don’t think like Him about it, my whole view of myself and others and the world and God will be distorted. So how did Jesus think about it?

Jesus, who was God, didn’t stop to think about whom He was like in greatness. Jesus kept His eyes on the greatness of God. His whole desire was to make much of God. And that is so fascinating. Why? Because He was God!  Here He was in the form of God, only He didn’t cling like glue to that as His claim to fame. His equality wasn’t what floated His boat. You know what He valued? God. He humbled Himself and emptied Himself. He lowered Himself to take on the form of a servant, of a man. Imagine that!  Jesus, God in human form, lowered Himself to come through the birth canal of a woman! That’s pretty inglorious and undignified if you ask me, I mean for the God of the universe? It’s an amazing process for us, after all, we’re worms, but God?

So here Jesus was, with us humans looking on, and counting Him, you know, God, as one of us. And we didn’t even realize the wonder of it all, the majesty of who was walking with us. But instead of being angry at us, instead of retaliating in His pride, He humbled Himself and became obedient to God the Father unto death, even that terrible death on the cross. Where was His pride? Where was His authority? Where was His heart? Obviously, not lifted up in Himself but lifted up in His Heavenly Father and lifting us up to Him.

So what does God, the Heavenly Father do? He highly exalts Him. He lifts Jesus up and makes Him the Height of heights. He makes Jesus the tallest tree, to which all else bows, whether of earth or of heaven. This is the attitude of the Lord. This is the attitude of the true King. This is the heart that God exalts, one who understands and lives in the humility of knowing Who we really belong to and Who is really sovereign.

I don’t work in me to make myself anything of eternal value. Oh, I could raise myself in the status of this world, but it won’t give me status in God’s eyes. Only God can do that and I can only get there through submission and humility to Him. And if I am truly learning to be humble before my God, then my life will demonstrate humility before others. Pharaoh should have worked out his own salvation with fear and trembling, meditating on the God who delivered the Israelites in such a powerful way. But he, like many of us, ignored the truth, and was too busy working things out his own way, in his own strength.


We still live in a crooked and twisted generation, but today is the day that we can untwist and get back to what we were created for. Today is the day that I can be a light shining in a twisted world to show it how to untwist. Today is the day that I can uncorrupt my thinking and my living and humble myself before my Maker and follow Christ into the heart of God. And I can be a part of leading others to His heart and out of corruption. Why? Because it’s not about me. “For it is God which works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) I’m God’s workmanship, not my own. I’ve got nothing to boast in outside of Him. I wouldn’t even be here without Him. My prayer is that my heart- my mind, my will, and my emotions- would be conformed to Your heart. May You be exalted in my life and may my life boast of You before the world. May Your greatness be my glory.

An Apetite for Beauty




“…I am of perfect beauty.” Ezekiel 27:3

You walked into the party
/ Like you were walking on a yacht
/ Your hat strategically dipped below one eye
/ Your scarf, it was apricot
/ You had one eye on the mirror
/ And watched yourself gavotte
/ And all the girls dreamed that they’d be your partner
/ They’d be your partner, and/ You’re so vain
/ You probably think this song is about you/ 
You’re so vain,
I’ll bet you think this song is about you/ 
Don’t you?
Don’t you? (Lyrics by Carly Simon)
I think of these words and Tyre’s thoughts of herself, “I am of perfect beauty,” and I start to think, “Well, what’s the problem with beauty?” But I won’t just reason it out in my own head. I want to look at it through the eyes of Scripture and see it Your way, God. I mean, who doesn’t want to be beautiful? Who doesn’t love to look at beautiful things? Isn’t that why we get excited about sunrises and mountain views and Grand Canyons and art and music and so much more? Is that bad? No, absolutely not. I know beauty in itself is not bad because You created beauty. But there is something about beauty that can become it’s own antithesis. And that happens when we forget where our beauty originates.

Here was Tyre, this powerful, lucrative, sea port. They were strong. They had all kinds of nations working with them. They had knowledge and wisdom. There builders were phenomenal. They had access to the finest wood and craftsmen. Their ships were to rave about. They received the finest goods in trade from Egypt and the isles of Elisha. Wise mariners were their pilots from Zidon and Arvad. Even their caulkers were wise men. They had armies. They guarded their walls and were upon the ships. Their many merchants brought in items like silver, iron, tin, lead, slaves, brass, horses, horsemen, mules, horns of ivory and ebony, emeralds, purple, embroidered work, fine linen, coral, agate, wheat, honey, oil, balm, wine, white wool, cassia, calamus, chariots, lambs, rams, goats, spices, precious stones, gold, blue clothes, and chests of rich apparel. Imagine the sight of this city!  Imagine it’s pride and the pride others bestowed upon it! And imagine the beauty that God blessed Tyre with, becoming the beauty that Tyre believed she had attained through all her own works. Imagine Tyre never even acknowledging God as her bestower of beauty. Imagine the glory of Tyre as Tyre revels in itself with no thought of God who is the Giver and Bestower of beauty. Imagine that which was made beautiful thinking it made itself that way.

I wanted to think on these things this morning, so I searched out Your word about beauty. I found Psalm 50:2 which states, “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shone forth.” And I think, really? Is Zion so beautiful now? Is it what we think of as beauty? And I wonder if we can take what God intends for beauty and strip it of it’s beauty in how we handle it? I have no doubt that Zion was created to reflect God’s beauty in perfection. And I have no doubt that it is still retaining a faint reflection right now. And I have even more confidence that God will reinstitute the beauty of Zion as He changes men’s hearts and returns His image of beauty to Zion in Christ who is perfect beauty in God. But, for a while, Zion is Tyre, who took their God-given beauty and twisted it into some form of their own, which totally distorted things.

Now, when I read Scripture, I think that God wants us to think about it all. That it’s not just parts for women and parts for men, but it applies to all mankind. I mean, after all, Paul said when we’ve put on Christ that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3:28,29) So I’m not going to write off something as only for men or only for women because a woman or man was being addressed. I hope the reader won’t either. Because in God’s word, what’s good for the goose is so good for the gander too.

So in Proverbs 31:30 we have, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” The truth is that Solomon was sharing wisdom with his son. Do you know, that if he was sharing this with his daughter, it would apply just as much and God probably would have led him to say, “Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a man who fears the Lord, he shall be praised.” And maybe he would have chosen some different masculine words, but the truth would have been the same because charm and becoming full on one’s own beauty isn’t just a female problem. And You don’t just praise the woman who knows where her beauty comes from. You praise the man who acknowledges You as His beauty.

But the problem begins when the Jew or the Greek, or the slave or the free, or the male or the female twist the source of their beauty. Then, instead of being a sweet perfume to God and those around us, “there will be putrefaction; instead of a belt, a rope; instead of well-set hair, a plucked-out scalp; instead of fine clothes, a donning of sackcloth; and branding instead of beauty.” (Isaiah 3:24) The sad news is the beauty is not ours to own outside of and separate from God. It will corrupt us. It will bring us to the point of facing judgment for stealing that which was not ours. We’ll be brought down from our self-appointed high place where we’ve built our tower above God because the truth is, we aren’t God. God will always be the Beauty of beauties. God will always be God. And one day, if we don’t choose to humble ourselves before You on our own, You will need to humble us. I mean compared to You we might as well start lamenting, “Is this the city of which they said, ‘The perfection of beauty , a joy to all the earth?’” (Lamentations 2:15) “How can this be a joy to all the earth? They only care about themselves. They destroy others for their own gain. They ignore God.” But God is God and will be God because He can’t be other than who He is. Only, we try to be other than who we are. What a sad pretense.

This is an old, old story. It’s actually much older than the story of Zion or of Tyre and definitely so much older than you or me. Ezekiel brings up this issue of beauty frequently. See, we can start trusting in our beauty instead of trusting in the Giver of our beauty. That’s dangerous. That’s when we start building our own high places and deciding our own version of right and wrong and following whoever or whatever tickles our fancy. But I digress.

If we jump ahead to Ezekiel 28 we find God equating Tyre with someone else. All of a sudden, as God is talking of Tyre, He begins relating the story and sin of Satan. Think- king of Tyre= Satan. “You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.” Notice that God had created Satan (Lucifer) and established him with everything he was supposed to be, full of wisdom and beauty to the point of perfection. But that was not enough for Lucifer. God continues, “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, that they may see you.” Beauty devoid of God failed for Lucifer. It failed for Tyre and for Zion. And it will fail for me.

Let’s just think about this a little more. I’m even wondering how Jesus would compare to the sight of Lucifer. After all Isaiah 53:2 tells us “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” Wait, are you telling me that Jesus is not beautiful? I find that hard to believe because I’m pretty sure that God is beauty, pure and unadulterated. But I do think that in His beauty, Jesus didn’t attract attention for His own glory, for His own beauty, for looking at Him but that what shone forth and was shone forth by Christ was the glory and beauty of the Father. And unless we’re looking for that, we won’t see it and we won’t desire Him.

But Lucifer was all about his own glory and being noticed for himself. So when we have our hearts set on being noticed and made more of or commended or patted on the back, we notice “people” like Lucifer. we see him, and we’re attracted to him, and we desire him because that’s what we want for us. I guess that’s what the expression, “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder” means. What we value is what we consider beautiful. But beauty isn’t up to our consideration. Beauty is God. Nothing more. Nothing less. Anything else is a dead imitation.

I need to learn to say, “You, Lord, are perfect in beauty!” Lucifer has no concept of love or grace because even in his high position and close proximity to God he was totally warped in his perception of God and dragged down many others with him. I mean, I wonder how he could be right there in the presence of God and not get it? But I guess, whether we’re angels or men and women, boys and girls, Jew or Gentile, slave or free, it all depends on what we want to see and what we’re really looking for.

I’m so glad that Jesus, being God, still chose to shine forth God’s glory and not His own, even though he had it to flaunt it. But flaunting wasn’t important to Him. Showing us the way to God was. Showing us where true beauty lies was. Showing us the beauty of love and grace and obedience and sacrifice was. Beauty, in and of itself, will lead us away from God like Lucifer led so many other angels. But the beauty of God in Christ Jesus, who for the glory of God and our salvation sacrificed Himself on the cross, gave up His own beauty for God first and for our well-being second, has been shed abroad for us. This is love. This is beauty.

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” ( 1 Peter 3:4) Sorry, but I’m pretty sure that Lucifer would have done well to have understood this truth, and that Tyre and Zion would have done well too. Our beauty, no matter who we are, married-unmarried, male-female, child-adult ought to be the outflow of Christ in us. That’s the inner man. Because without Him in us, without some way for God to flow out of us, we’re heading for our own downfall and the downfall of all those that follow us. There is only one thing that is not corruptible, that will never perish, and that is God and life in Him through Christ. Unless He’s our ornament and our beauty, we have no beauty that counts. And if we have His beauty emanating from us like it does from Jesus, well, then we’ll have a quiet and meek spirit just like Jesus’. Get it? Our life will shine forth with the beauty of Jesus. And then others will follow Him in God’s beauty.

C.S. Lewis said, “We do not want merely to see beauty…we want something else which can hardly be put into words- to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. That is why we have peopled air and earth and water with gods and goddesses, and nymphs and elves.” But the truth is God has invited us into the unity of His beauty from the very beginning. Dostoevsky’s prince in The Idiot stated, “Beauty will save the world.” “The appetite for beauty comes inscribed into every soul and it is a very large appetite. ‘By nature men desire the beautiful,’ says St. Basil the Great (circa 379 A.D.)-and I might stress that they desire it immensely.” (Andrew Cuneo) Beauty is a God-given appetite but our appetite was designed to be after God’s beauty and to let it adorn us. Think about it, if we want to be united with beauty so much, why not enter into the Maker’s beauty? Why would I want it on my own?

Lord, I totally get what C.S. Lewis said. More than anything I know my heart longs to be united with beauty. But sometimes I run to the short-cut or I grab for it now and I settle for less. I don’t want to settle for less because less is just emptiness and air and nymphs and elves. I want to be united in the Real Deal. I want to know real Beauty from the Source, and that’s You and only You. Lord, I want You to be my perfect beauty. May I cast off all that’s of me and let You clothe me in all that is You. I want You to look at me, like in the beginning of creation and say that I’m good, because then I’ll know that You’ve made me beautiful in You according to Your standards.

On Seeing, Contemplating, and Being Changed


“As for the wheels, they were called in my hearing ‘the whirling wheels’.” Ezekiel 10

Wheels and whirling wheels and creatures or cherubs with four faces and wings and eyes everywhere—it can make my head whirl. What do I do with it all? Am I supposed to understand and interpret all of this? Am I supposed to walk away after reading this vision of Ezekiel and be thinking about what these things mean or signify? Maybe. But what if I’m supposed to also be able to just sit down and be awed by God and contemplate how that awe ought to influence my life?

What if I sat back with Ezekiel and looked with him? What if I got down and opened the eyes of my heart and mind and spirit to look and behold what he was seeing? I might look beyond the cherubim and see that throne of sapphire, and catch Your glory, and see how You are so much more than I can ever fully comprehend and so powerful beyond compare. And I might just have to come to the conclusion that You really are in charge and that You are the One with “the know.” I mean, what are cherubs with four faces and wings and wheels to You? You understand them. After all, You created them. And that man clothed in white linen, that You appoint to show judgment, is Your Man. I’m pretty sure it’s Jesus, that one that “all authority in heaven and earth” (Matthew 28:18) has been given to. But why? Why all this hard to explain stuff?

Maybe I need to know that Your ways, God, are different than my ways and Your thoughts are not my thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8) See, Your eyes see and know all my ways. None of my ways are hidden from You, NOTHING. (Jeremiah 16:17) I, on the other hand, don’t comprehend all of You. My mind and my eyes and my understanding are feeble and weak in comparison. My eyes are so tuned in to looking at things through man’s vision that I look at You and have the twisted thinking to think, like Israel, “The way of the Lord is not just.” (Ezekiel 18:25) But the truth is, I’m the one with faulty vision. I need to start seeing the truth and You are the truth. I need to stop thinking I will understand everything and just start realizing You are the One I have to run to whether I understand or not. I have to realize that You are the One who knows the reality of every piece of this puzzle we are living in. I need to stop trying to smash pieces into place that don’t fit and let You be God instead.

It could be that I need to just sit back and realize and acknowledge and start acting like You, the One who is sitting on that sapphire throne (which is just because those were the only words Ezekiel had to come to near to the description!), are Supreme. You are God. You rule. It doesn’t matter what we decide. You rule. You are. Your will and Your thought is everything. And it’s not just that You know, but You do and act. You are the essence of everything, the reason, the why, the how. You are in charge because without You, nothing would be, nothing would exist. Because You thought us, we are. Because You thought the cherubs and the wheels, they are. You think and Your will brings forth.

You rule now, in the present. When Adam and Eve were on the earth, You were ruling in their time. You were there right then with Ezekiel in his present. And You are still ruling right now in my present. There is never a present time when You are not there ruling. The present and past and future are all the same to You. It doesn’t matter how much any of us rebel against this authority of Yours. Your rule will still be. It’s not just that someday we will be judged. We are living under Your “judgment bar” already because You reign right now.

This rule of Yours is supreme over every other ruler. Everyone else and everything else will be overcome, whether it’s death, or Satan, or a president, or a dictator, or my own way. We may not want to be subject to You, but, nevertheless, we are all Your subjects. That’s part of the picture here in Ezekiel. Tradition has it that the Supreme Ruler has the final say in the life or death of His subjects. Only this Supreme Ruler has a heart so much for us that He sent His only Son to be a payment for us and bring us back to Him. And how do we respond to that?

If I look on Ezekiel’s vision I see righteousness and glory. These are things I don’t get to see much in the world today. Your judgment could be seen as a terrible thing, lives lost in terrible circumstances. I could just be filled with fear. But to be under You and to know that You are on my side would fill me with praise and rejoicing instead. Even though I live through cruelty and tyranny on earth, through things that appear so unjust that we can only call it evil, I can know that my Supreme God will bring relief. You will make it right. Your government will return and is in the process of returning even now, in the present that looks so dim. Your goodness is here and is coming. You are acting. You are being. You are.

In the midst of all the junk in life going on, Your glory is going up, just like when it went up from the threshold, and filled the house, and the court was filled with the brightness of Your glory (Ezekiel 10:4), Your glory is still here and filling Your people and the places where they are. Your glory is still filling heaven and waiting for the time when it will again fill earth. You do the right thing, in the right time, always. Now. Every day is now for You. Sure, You know everything. Sure, You are all-powerful. Sure, no one can resist Your might. Sure, Your majesty is overwhelming. Sure, You are a conqueror. But You are the glory of “perfect purity, truth, justice, and benevolence.” Wrap that all up together. I can hold on to all of that today, and the next today, and the next.

And here You are, revealing Yourself from Your throne. You are “Infinite Intellect,” yet You are more. You are “the Will and the Power of right.” I can feel You in all that force just like Ezekiel. But it’s not just intellectual. It’s not just emotional. You aren’t just the God on Your throne far away in heaven. Through Jesus, You came from heaven to earth. You visited us. You reached my common life. You move among the affairs and lives and hearts of men and women, boys and girls. Your glory and righteousness touch us. You invite us to come to You and to be witnesses of You but You don’t stop there. You come to us in Christ Jesus and by the power of Your Holy Spirit.

What do you see when you read Ezekiel? Or rather, Who do you see? Are we allowing God to open our eyes to see Him as He is? Or are we responding like those that Paul spoke of in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 when he shared, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” And he goes on to remind us of this glory of God and the gift He’s given of Himself, today and every today before and after—“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Are we taking time to not only see, but to be filled with this glory and to live in this glory?

Am I seeing what Ezekiel saw? What am I doing with what I see of You, Lord? Am I like Peter, who saw a glimpse and wanted to make a memorial site? Or am I going to let it change my life perspective and let You rule over me by Your glory and the impression You leave in my heart and spirit and mind and will? Will my life be daily changed because of how I have seen You? Will I walk in that glory and righteousness and the supremacy that is You, or will I live life as I have been? Will the whirling wheels have any effect on me?

Falling on My Face


“…This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face…” (Ezekiel 1:28)

I know there are lots of commentaries out there but I still have lots of questions. Here is Ezekiel seeing this vision that You have given him, God. It’s about creatures with four faces, one like a man, another like a lion, one like an ox, and one like an eagle. They had four wings. Sparkling like burnished brass with straight legs and feet like a calf’s foot, they moved without turning. Two of their wings covered their bodies and two wings apparently stretched above and clasped together overhead. And there was flashing lightning and there were these wheels that went with them. And a wheel in the middle of the wheel. Read it. What am I to walk away with from this today?

Do you ever stop and wonder what Ezekiel took away from this? Did Ezekiel walk away from this vision trying to interpret every verse? Did he walk away and write down a commentary? I just wonder. Or did he walk away just thinking about the wonder and glory and unsurpassed glory of God? Do I need to be able to explain each item in this vision to see what You were showing Ezekiel? Can I really ever explain everything about You, God? Am I supposed to think that I can?

What if Ezekiel was given this opportunity to glimpse what it’s like before Your throne? What if he was given this opportunity to see how much different You are than us and that there is so much more to You that we don’t even know or understand? What if this is a vision of worship? And a vision of holiness? And a vision of power? And a vision of in-explainable things that match Your ways that are above our ways?

What if I would be better off standing and being amazed than explaining things? Maybe there are times when awe is more important than interpretation. What if my interpretation takes away from Your awe? Maybe I’m wrong or crazy, but I want to be cared for by a God who can’t be explained by man. I want a God who is bigger and knows more. I’m more than ok with You being in-explainable.

And if You are in-explainable, wouldn’t I expect those closest to Your throne to be also? I mean, if I could fathom You, You would no longer be infinite, would You? Finite things like me and this earth are fathomable. But not You and not things living and breathing according to Your spirit- like those living creatures.

Which makes me think. Maybe, the more of You in me, the more of Your Spirit that guides me like it guides those creatures, well, then maybe the less of me is fathomable. Maybe, in You, we begin to become unfathomable creatures, doing unfathomable things. Maybe that’s how the disciples and early believers turned the world upside down. Maybe they took on some of Your unfathomableness by taking on Your Spirit and letting it direct their paths like these amazing creatures.

I don’t know. I read the commentaries and it makes me think I can have an explanation for everything. And then I walk away with an explanation. Or I can read Your word, and think about what it would be like to see that for myself, and I don’t have an explanation. But I walk away with this greatness of You and this extra specialness of You above all things. And I can’t explain and I don’t want to and I don’t want to read someone elses explanation. I just want to be awed. I just want to respond like Ezekiel and watch in wonder until You show Yourself and then I want to fall on my face and just be allowed to be in Your presence and be overwhelmed by You.

I guess it takes me back to Isaiah 55. Isaiah is hearing from You, Lord, and You say, “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, and let him return unto the LORD, and He will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” I mean, who is the wicked or unrighteous man here? Maybe the wicked and unrighteous is a broader spectrum than we like to admit. Maybe I fall in that spectrum. Maybe I fall there because I think too much of my way and my thoughts and interpretations. After all, You tell us outright “[M]y thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways…For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

I don’t just want to interpret You or have You interpreted. I want to see You and hear You and follow You and be moved by Your Spirit in all I do. Isaiah continues with Your words, “So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Your word is not static. When You say it shall be, hayah, it’s because it is becoming all that it is intended to become. It is doing. It is living. It is acting and being acted upon. It is accomplishing. It is delighting You. It is prospering and benefiting and bringing Your will to pass. It is being sent and being received. It is being heard and obeyed. Like the revolution of those wheels it, or rather, You are the center of our being and becoming.

I want to just sit back and take in the vision around Your throne. I want to remember who You are, that You are more than I can handle so that I let You be God, and I let You handle things and I let You handle me. I want the One who is glorious enough to create and control creatures as grand as those beings to control me by Your spirit. I don’t ever want to make You less than You are. I want You to be fully You in my mind and my life. I want to glory in You being God and You knowing more than me and being so capable that I understand what it is to fear the Lord. After all, when was the last time I fell on my face and trembled over You?

Vehement Exploits


“…but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” (Daniel 11:32)

Here is the angelic being in the book of Daniel, telling of coming conquerors, and one who “shall return into his land with great riches; and his heart shall be against the holy covenant; and he shall do exploits, and return to his own land.” This is one who is busy doing wickedly, conspiring with those who despise God and His people, polluting the sanctuary and making it an abomination before all. And here is this word used, this word exploit, and I really wanted to understand it’s meaning, as to how strong this word was back then, because I see it being used for the faithful also not many verses down. Only, surprise of surprises, that’s not the word of the original Hebrew.

But let’s look at the exploits of this ruler for a moment anyway. I can’t help but think of how he is honing in on the people of God, focussing on oppressing their beliefs. And this is not gentle bullying.  It’s like what’s spoken of in Psalm 146:7-8,  (when we think of who’s doing the oppressing and how) “Who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free. The Lord opens the eyes of the blind; the Lord raises up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.” These are the oppressed, the ‘ashaq of Hebrew thinking. It’s a guttural word. “Gerstenberger points out that guttural words like this one are almost always connected to some form of violent or aggressive action in nearly all Semitic languages.”(Skip Moen) This word, at it’s root, is connected with the words “destroy,” “deal violently with,” “slaughter,” and “quarrel.” It’s a threat against well-being and focussed on “negatively construed actions and states.”

This is more than “injustice.” It’s violent. It’s truly abusing and taking advantage of others terribly. It’s inhumane and godless actions towards others. God will judge the perpetrators for their violence. But who are the exploited, the ones violently mistreated? The righteous! The Lord, YOU, protect Your own. You vindicate us. We, believers, Your people, are the ones who will be found being exploited. We will be the hungry, the imprisoned, the humbled and blind. Have I ever experience this kind of treatment? Or am I too much like the world and not enough like You that the world would be offended by me as it was by You?

Am I rejected and exploited, then maybe I’ve found true success. Does Satan feel threatened by my stand? Is he trying to reak terrible and violent damage against me? Then I should know I’m doing just fine. God loves me and has given Himself that I might give myself away for Him. What am I doing with me? Is my life my own or is it truly Yours? What am I willing to do? What length will I go? How far shall I be spent? Will my dying to self be total?

By context or association, our interpreters of the King James Version translated the Hebrew asah as doing exploits. Well, asah is about doing in many senses. It’s how You brought the firmament into existence and how You enabled the fruit tree to bear fruit. It’s what You did when You took and formed Eve from Adam. It’s the serpent’s actions and choices in tempting man and woman in the garden. It’s the action and thinking in Cain taking the life of his brother. I suppose it’s more than exploits and sometimes less than but this is always about choices and actions that follow. And it’s about how greatly we can decide to do and live out that which seems to benefit ourselves yet violently disregards others, as well as God. Or, it can be about how greatly we can decide to do and be and live out that which delights God, so that it delights us, and benefits all those around us even though it appears to bring our own earthly demise.

See, the people of God, well, we don’t need man’s flatteries. We know You and we desire Your praise and Your presence. We know You. It’s all about yada. We know the vehemence of Your feelings for us. We know the measure of Your love and devotion. We know that You are going to vindicate us, more than MacArthur returning to the Philippines. We know Your passion. We know Your power. We know with our emotions, our will, and our intellect, every part of our being.

This is what You have always been about, God. “For I desired loyal love, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”(Hosea 6:6) What more loyal love has been displayed than Yours for Your people? What more loyal love has there ever been than the unselfish sacrifice of Jesus the Messiah upon the cross? If yada includes “an act involving concern, inner engagement, dedication, or attachment to a person,” (Heschel) then didn’t God first demonstrate that for us? If it “also means to have sympathy, pity or affection for someone,” didn’t God go beyond that?

Nations were rising up and doing things for their glory, creating life the way they wanted it to be, and doing whatever they wanted to without any dedication or attachment to anyone but themselves. The fruit of that tree is violence towards others who stand in the way. I mean just look at the first example of the one who first turned away from God and sought after his own ambitions- Satan. And what came of that? Violence against all who would side with God, the One who stands in his way. Our actions speak the volumes of what is in our hearts or the lack thereof. Great doing in opposition to God leads to terrible exploitation. It’s so sad that we would come to so emphatically do that which defies our very purpose of existence.

But there are people who know God, who experience His affections for them and reciprocate them. There are people who God engages with and are engaged with Him. These are those who do and create and live vehemently for the One they know because He makes Himself known in and through them. They live extraordinarily and they die extraordinarily. They suffer extraordinarily and they shine extraordinarily. They have strength that surpasses knowledge in the midst of persecution. They have understanding and teach others. They fall by the sword and by flame and captivity and spoil, yes, they fall but shall never be broken. Why? “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed…” (2 Corinthians 4:7-9)

Therefore, don’t be afraid of prophecy and rulers whether here or to come. Instead, choose whose side you will be on. For those of us who choose You, Lord, You too will choose to be on our side and we will not have to fear in the midst of all this. After all, whatever man can do onto me is only temporary, not eternal. I want to boldly say and believe and live in the truth that You are my Helper so that I will not fear what man shall do unto me. I want You to be great in me. I want to cling to You all the days of my life here on earth and into eternity. Though I be violently exploited, “yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength, and He will make my feet like deer feet, and will make me to walk upon my high places.” (Habakkuk 3:18,19)

Signets Don’t Live in the Dung


Photo credit to doubleportioninheritance.blogspot.

“‘In that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘I will take you, O Zerubbabel, my servant, the son of Shealtiel,’ says the Lord, ‘and I will make you as a signet: for I have chosen you,’ says the Lord of hosts.”  Haggai 2:23

Can you imagine being Zerubbabel?  Of all the men in the world, the Lord chose Zerubbabel.  You, Lord, chose to make him like a signet, the signature ring of the King.  But just the fact that You chose him, a mere man, out of what seemed like an insignificant tribe to the rest of the world, wow!  I’m so glad that You see things differently than the world and that nothing and no one is insignificant to You.

You speak to a residue of people.  Here are the “left-overs” of Israel.  And the residue is looking at the residue of the previous temple, the house of the Lord.  Some of the residue had seen the prior glorious house of the Lord, but this…  it was and would be like nothing in comparison.  Even it’s best effort would be less than the original.  But I think that You were telling Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people, to not concentrate on the glory of the building, but to concentrate on Your glory. 

It’s like You say, “Look at these left-overs, and then turn to me and see what I will do with them.  Come, enter into the work with me.  The important thing isn’t the left-overs you see, but that I am here with You in the midst of the left-over mess.  And I have a plan to guide You to change these left-overs into something glorious in Me.”  Your real words are, “Work: for I am with You.” And that word for work, asah, is the same word used in Your creation of the world shared in Genesis.  The literal translation would be “God rested from all His work which God created to make.”  The interesting thing is that after Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, after they chose something over You, You asked Eve and the serpent something on the same line of thinking.  You asked them, “What is this that you have done?” (Genesis 3:13, 14) 

What if there are different doors of opportunity to effect the world that You have created?  You know, a way that seems right unto people, but that’s not what You intended, because it leads unto death and separation?  Or other ways, other doors, that lead unto You and to life?  And what if You built all these doors into the world and You know the consequences of every door that we can choose, only we think we know, but we really don’t?  And so, just as You shaped the world and placed doors of opportunity and doors that lead to destruction, You have also given us the ability to shape the world You’ve placed us in.  Does that change the way Zerubabel, or Joshua, or the people of Israel, or I think? 

Why should that change the way we think?  Could it be that the choices I make shape the world around me?  Here You set before us these glorious possibilities.  You have such wonderful plans for us, to prosper us and give us a future in You.  But we choose to take those possibilities and grab onto little, scrappy actualities instead.  I want my possibility now!  I don’t want to wait.  And I grab for less.  I restrict You.  Can I restrict You, God?  Well, we know that it is possible to grieve the Holy Spirit.

What if You created a world and formed it in such a way that we had opportunities to join in the forming?  It could have been perfect, but Adam and Eve chose to open doors their own way.  And don’t we?  And yet we complain at God for the evil in the world, when it was never Your choice.  Letting evil in is all by our choice but who wants to blame ourselves?  Isn’t it always easier and less hurtful to point the finger at someone else?  Who is performing the making and doing is important because there is only One who always makes and does what is purely Good.  I shouldn’t fool myself to think that I can make good choices without You.  It’s not the doing or making that’s the important thing.  It’s Who is doing and making that matters most.  That I can open my own doors isn’t the privilege of being human and made in the image and after the likeness of God.  Because unless I open the doors of Your desire, I tear apart that image and destroy the likeness.

Paul understood that the one performing the doing and making was the piece de resistance.  It’s not how it’s done.  See, it was one man named Adam who sinned and opened his own door his own way.  It was like a Pandora’s box he chose.  And his open door brought sin and death into our world.  So now, everyone has sinned, and the penalty for sin is death. (Romans 5:12)  Thank you, human beings, for your great contribution to the world as you and we choose to make choices and open doors of our own choice as opposed to the choice of the God who loves us and gave himself for us.  Pretty sad, huh?

Here’s another thing.  Three times here, You tell the hearers to consider this.  And I guess we usually think of considering as thinking about something.  And it does mean that.  But I wonder if our translation really carries the heart of what You mean when You ask us to consider something?  Why do I say that?  Because every time You say, “Consider,” it’s two words together from siym and lebab.  We’ve seen that God is inviting His people to join in His doing with Him.  Now maybe considering in Your eyes, God, is all about understanding our placement and purpose in the world by You, accompanied by our heart’s undivided intended devotion to You.  And maybe we really aren’t considering things properly if those two aren’t coming together in You.

See, Adam didn’t actually start in the Garden.  Genesis 2:8 tells us that the Lord God put the man whom He had formed in the garden.  Why?  Because He had a purpose for man in that garden.  That “put” or “placed” is that same Hebrew word siym.  It can mean “to appoint, to bring, to call, to put, to change, to charge, to commit, to consider, to convey, or to determine.”  Maybe that means that God is in charge of everything, even our geography.  And when does Adam’s story really begin?  Was it where he was created?  Or where God placed him?  What about us?  Was it all about Adam’s plans or Your plans, God?  And why would You place Him in the garden?  Was that the place of full relationship with You?  Is that where You could nourish man by Your provision, Your way?  And yet You allowed man free choice.  Adam could choose the door to the tree of life or the door to the knowledge of good and evil.  Maybe paradise on earth wasn’t such a safe place after all.  Maybe the only safe place has always been in You and choosing You.  Because even paradise can draw us away into disobedience and danger. 

But you just don’t plant or place.  You look at the “lebab,” and you know our heart.  This is Your desire for us that You share in Deuteronomy 6:5, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart [lebab], and with all your soul, and with all your might.”  This is all about singular devotion to God.  This is all about personal devotion to You.  Loving You with all our heart is about devoting all our will, of the whole me to You.  My soul is the unity of my flesh, and will, and essence.  And my might is absolute commitment, the muchness of who I am, to You.

So if considering the way You ask us to consider is refocussing ourself on You, it really makes sense that You ask us to look into our heart that You have placed strategically in this world for Your glory.  Am I living up to Your created purpose and placement for me?  Am I living up to Your plan and entering Your intended doors, or am I avoiding Your plan for me and opening my own doors?  Are my will, emotions, and thoughts lined up with Your plan and placement of me?  Now, Psalm 20:4 touches on this.  It says, “May He grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your counsel!”  Isn’t that great?  Well, only if our heart’s desire has been lined up with Yours.  Otherwise, granting us what we want according to our council is an opportunity to live out a curse.  Just look at history and the doors that have been opened according to man’s council. 

But if we stop to consider Your way, with all our heart leaned in to You, we find that just like Zerubbabel, You have chosen us to place us for a purpose for You in this world.  Jesus said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14)  And Paul continue that thought, “For you see your calling, brothers, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty…” (1 Corinthians 1:26,27)  Why?  Because it’s all about His glory and that can only be seen in those who are called and accept their appointment.  Then You choose to use and glorify Yourself in those who surrender to You and open and enter Your doors where You are present.  And these, and only these, are those who are labeled faithful.  And it’s only the faithful who are able to reflect Your image and bear Your likeness in this world.

Many are called but few are chosen.  Why?  Because You are a bad and cruel God?  Absolutely not.  Why?  Because we choose by choosing other doors to not answer Your call.  I mean, how much more merciful do we want You to be?  Look at how many times, over and over again, You showed up for the unfaithful nation of Israel, Your child, Your people.  You kept saying, “Go through my doors with Me.”  But they didn’t want to.  They wanted things their own way.  And they got it.  And it’s the same with us.  I want to stop wanting things my way.  I want to come to consider everything as empty without You.  I want to come to the reality that Paul did.  I want to count it all dung compared to knowing You, Jesus, and living and walking and doing and being in Your presence.  I want to learn to suffer whatever loss it takes to obey You and follow through Your doors.  I’m not there yet, Lord, but I pray that Your Spirit will continue to guide me there and that my spirit will desire nothing more than total commitment to the God who has my purpose in life down pat.