God, the Joy of my Desiring


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“And as soon as she saw them with her eyes, she doted upon them, and sent messengers unto them into Chaldea.” (Ezekiel 23:16)

Identifying the root of the problem is the beginning of fixing the problem. And if I’m honest, Aholah and Aholibah aren’t the only ones with the problem of seeing things and doting upon them. And if I’m even more honest, I’d admit that seeing things and doting upon them is a very tragic and dangerous rut to get stuck in.

Well, Aholah and Aholibah aren’t real people but they do set up a picture for us. And just as Samaria acted and Jerusalem acted, so can we as individuals. It starts somewhere before a whole people group turns. But what’s important is that here was Aholah, Samaria, who had been “birthed” and created to glorify the living God and to worship Him alone and yet she established her own tent and left His. And then there’s Jerusalem, or Aholibah, who had been “birthed” of God also and created to glorify Him and worship Him alone. There was His tent, His abode, His presence in the midst of her, and yet she turned her eyes and her heart elsewhere.

Here we see an age old problem that leads to death and separation and broken relationship. Think about it. Eve saw the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. She saw it with her eyes. I bet she and Adam walked by that tree frequently. It wasn’t the first time she saw it but something different happened about how she was seeing it now that the serpent reintroduced it to her. Now she saw it and she doted upon it. Ezekiel uses the Hebrew word agab. It means “to breathe after, to love (sensually).” Noah Webster defines doting as being delirious, impaired intellect, where your mind wanders or wavers, silliness. He also equates it with being excessively in love, loving to excess or extravagance and actually shows Ezekiel 23 as an example.

So here was Eve, who became delirious and impaired, excessive in her desire for what she saw, just like Aholah and Aholibah, and just like I can. What? What was the problem with looking? Well, there didn’t used to be a problem with looking until the looking became twisted into craving what was not designed to be eaten. Truth is, God set a boundary in the garden and in our lives. It’s called trusting. In the garden it looked like the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He said, “You shall not eat of it: for in the day you eat of it, you shall surely die.” Why? Because only God knows what is truly good for man and how to give it to him, and it’s our blessing to learn that and live in that goodness. But, it’s our free choice “to not to.”

So Adam, who was given this boundary first hand from the mouth of God, relayed that message of great import to Eve. And they were fully OK with that, until….the serpent enters. “You shall not surely die: for God knows that in the day you eat of it, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food…” What? God said it wasn’t good for food. How could something that you were not supposed to eat and that would surely bring death if you ate it, be good for food? Who’s word is true anyways? Why would what God didn’t make good for food become good for food because a serpent says so or because it looks good to you and because it would help you be a better wife or know more or whatever?

It’s not that this fruit wasn’t good. It was good. It was good for keeping God and life and who we are in a proper perspective. God already knows good and evil. God determined it already. I don’t get to decide on my own. God already determined the consequences of stepping out of His boundary of protection and provision. And it’s not just some mandate or a rule or a precept or a concept. It’s just the way it is. In God is life. Out of God is death. Why? Because You are LIFE. In God is provision and wholeness and fullness and peace and love and joy and fulfilled desire. Out of God is chaos and emptiness and unfulfillment. That’s what the tree was all about. It still is today because God hasn’t changed.

Eve, Aholah, and Aholibah, and you and I were created to be enthralled and loved on by this living God. We were created to be able to love Him back as He loved us. We were created to worship Him which is far more than doting. When God told us, “You shall worship no other god,” (Exodus 34:14) He wasn’t just implying that we weren’t to bend our knees or prostrate ourselves before anyone or anything else. Shachah means that but the Hebrew perspective takes it deeper. It’s about worshipping God in accord with His instructions on worshipping Him.

Now, don’t give me this, “Isn’t that expecting too much?” attitude. Let’s just look at things in a simple earthly way here. I’m married. I have a husband. There are things that portray to me that my husband loves and cherishes me. Most of those things have to do with how he pays attention to my heart and hears the real me and how he responds to that. Like, if I say I really hate something and that thing would be all he ever gave me, like it was his special gift to me, I certainly wouldn’t feel very loved or valued. But, if on the other hand, I said I really loved something, and that was what he pursued, I would know he listened and cared about my heart. I mean, a new vacuum might be handy and helpful around home, but if I’m the one spending most of my day or time home from work doing that kind of labor, it’s not showing that you understand my heart. Taking me away somewhere, where I could just appreciate being without working or deciding, would show you knew my heart. Nope, the vacuum won’t do it.

So, we see things and think, “Oh, this will help me serve God better or help this person better or it will help me know more.” So we choose to buy the vacuum and give it back to God like some great gift. Actually, what I’ve really done is bowed down before my self and taken Him off the throne. My doting, my desire just became an idol and I started worshipping it and took God off the pedestal. It’s the same thing that happened with Cain and King Saul. It’s not just a problem for women.

I’m not free to decide how I want to worship. God says, “This is what pleases Me. This is where a relationship with Me and in Me is found.” Do I worship Him as He says or do I listen to my voice or the voice of another instead? It’s not just about worshipping the Right One but about worshipping the Right Way. The object and the method matter.
That makes me wonder, if this word for worship, shachah, means “to bow down, to prostrate oneself,” why I don’t do that more? If that’s how You tell me I should worship You, maybe that’s how I ought to start. Maybe if I were on my knees more or on my face more before You, I wouldn’t start looking at things the wrong way because I’d be seeing You from and in the right perspective. Maybe I’ve already been guilty of doting and idolatry by simply not bowing down before You in the first place.

In Deuteronomy You remind us, “You shall not bow yourself to them nor serve them, for I, Jehovah your God, am a jealous God.” What would turn my heart to do this? Pride? Arrogance? And then, what and whom do I labor after? Who am I really serving? Is my work dedicated to You? Then it’s worship. If it’s not, it’s dedicated to serving false gods. Work and worship go hand in hand. And worship isn’t doting. Worship is knowing and living life fully in that knowing by following through with doing that flows from that knowing.

The truth is that it is for our own good that we shall have no other gods beside You. It’s in our best interest to have You as our “exclusive sovereign.” God doesn’t just want what’s good for us. He wants the best for us. I can respond like Eve, or Aholah, or Aholibah, or Cain, or King Saul, and I have, and settle for what seems good instead. I can think that I know what’s better for me than God. But the truth is that without God, I am infirm, incapacitated, and dependent. To ignore God’s best, is to do so at my peril.

But the good news is that God can bring the best to pass in my life. It’s His divine purpose for each of us. It might not seem like the best at the time, but it is. It’s what will best equip me for “serving and worshipping Him.” If I want the best, I will choose to reject the forbidden fruit. I’ll run and cling to the One who wants the best for me and is able to give me the best. And if and when my eyes are diverted, I can throw away my pride and arrogance and fall down at His feet like I should have in the first place and get back to worship, true worship. I don’t have to keep my eyes on the lie. I can get them back on the truth. I can stop doting and return to worship.

I need to stop forgetting that You are the one who said, “I am the Lord your God.” (Exodus 20:2) You were my God before I was ever Yours. Well, I mean, You were the One who claimed me before I ever even knew I needed You. You chose me. You drew me to You. You adopted me. You are my God. Mine. And I am Yours.

Because You are my God, I can live through anything because I know I can trust You and You will be forever constant. I can live through anything because I know that You will fully protect me and bless me. That doesn’t mean bad stuff won’t happen. It means You’ll always be there and give me the best of You. You’ll always stand with me and for me. You are my God. I don’t have to be afraid. I don’t even have to be in control because You are and You do it better than me. You are for me. You said it and You mean it and You just are. So, maybe it’s time I started desiring the fruit of You more than anything else. Maybe it’s time that You became better than life itself to me. Maybe it’s time that I fell in love with Your authority because it means falling in love with You, the God who loved me first. I need You, God. But You already knew that. After all, that’s why You declared, “I am the Lord your God.”

Satan is such a twister. “For God knows that in the day you eat of it, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:5) Why is it so important for us to know and experience everything for ourselves? Why would I want to experience shame and hardship? Why can’t I just trust? Why do I think it’s more important to know what God knows than to know God? Why is it more important to experience what God experiences than to experience God Himself? How could I ever think to experience all that God knows when He is my creator and I am a mere creation? Why isn’t it sufficient to revel in Him? Did you ever come to the conclusion that being god is just too weighty? I have. I’m so sorry that door was ever opened.

Here’s what’s real. “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me.” (Song of Solomon 7:10) Who can explain the intensity of God’s love for us? Not me. But that’s the kind of love I want to be wrapped in and that’s the kind of love I want to return. Which somehow brings me to the hymn, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.

Jesu, joy of man’s desiring,
 Holy wisdom, love most bright;
 Drawn by Thee, our souls aspiring
  Soar to uncreated light.
 Word of God, our flesh that fashioned,
 With the fire of life impassioned,
 Striving still to truth unknown,
 Soaring, dying round Thy throne.
Through the way where hope is guiding,
 Hark, what peaceful music rings;
 Where the flock, in Thee confiding,
 Drink of joy from deathless springs.
 Theirs is beauty’s fairest pleasure;
 Theirs is wisdom’s holiest treasure.
 Thou dost ever lead Thine own  
In the love of joys unknown.



Maybe this is where my eyes ought to be, trusting in Your knowledge and not striving for my own. Maybe it would be good to spend more time bowing before You in worship then trying to be all I can be. Maybe then that would open the door for me allowing You to be all that You are. Maybe then You would truly be God, the joy of my desiring.


Pondering Divine Sunglasses


“Hitherto is the end of the matter. As for me Daniel, my cogitations much troubled me, and my countenance changed in me: but I kept the matter in my heart.” (Daniel 7:28)

So, some of those words aren’t words we use much nowadays, but it made me think about the intensity of feelings this dream left with Daniel. Daniel had a dream, a vision given from God, and it was pretty intense. It was so intense that he was “grieved in [his] spirit in the amidst of [his] body, and the visions of [his] head troubled [him].” So he asked one of the bystanders in the vision what it meant. He wanted to know the “truth” of it.

Four kings would arise out of the earth but the saints of the most High would take the kingdom and possess it for ever and ever. But there was a fourth beast with ten horns and another little one comes up with three of the first horns plucked up by the roots. And then comes the vision of the Ancient of Days with garment white as snow, hair like pure wool, a throne like a fiery flame, wheels like burning fire, and a fiery stream from before Him. Ministering around him were too many to be counted. And there’s more, but you can go back and read it and dig into it for yourself.

All I know is that this vision and it’s interpretation was not only hard to grasp so that Daniel needed help but that even starting to grasp it was terrifying to Daniel’s thoughts or cogitations so much so that it altered his whole mood. But he didn’t dismiss it. He kept the matter in his heart. Now, heart for the Hebrew (leb) isn’t just that organ inside that pumps blood or what we think of when we think of strong emotions. Putting something in your heart was about your feelings, your will, and your intellect. It wasn’t just about your thoughts or feelings. Your will is what you do. So, when the Psalmist says, “Your word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against You,” he’s not just talking of tucking an emotion or memory away. He’s talking of tucking that emotion and knowledge in so deeply that it effects his will and actions. So too was this vision for Daniel.

Daniel didn’t just remember this vision as a vague memory attached to strong feelings. It now colored how he looked at events in life around him. It was as though God gave him a pair of divine sunglasses to think about things in the world. Daniel would now look at his world expecting to see, expecting to spot these kings, these events. Daniel was walking in faith because he didn’t just tuck God’s word away in some crevice of his brain.

I think of someone else like that. Her name was Mary and she was young and was chosen to be the mother of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. And she had no idea how it would all pan out, only that it would come to pass, because the angel sent by God had said so. There was that day that God chose to have Mary give birth to Jesus in that little sheep cave of a stable. And these shepherds see angels declaring “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12) And here was this multitude of angels praising God and saying, “ Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” So the shepherds run to see this baby and tell of all that has passed. And other people wondered about those things. They marveled, like, “Wow! That’s amazing!” But Mary kept all those things and pondered them in her heart.

What’s the difference between marveling and keeping and pondering? The word for keeping is suntero. It’s when you keep something closely together. It’s remembering mentally and obeying. Mary remembered and held on to these words and happenings in a way that she would act upon them. Marveling is like standing by and watching a really cool air show, seeing some outrageous stunt or a crash, and walking away and living life as usual without it having any effect except to say, “Wow!” But not Mary. She pondered these things in her heart. That’s the word sumballo. It’s like she consulted these things. She considered them over and over again. She used these events to help her as she walked through life. These events became her divine sunglasses through which she saw and interpreted and acted upon life. She understood what Daniel understood, at least on seeing things through God’s perspective.

Even when Mary and Joseph “misplaced” Jesus and he had remained behind in Jerusalem dialoguing with the teachers at the temple, we see this attitude again. This is twelve years later for Mary. And Jesus has asked, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I must be about my Father’s business?” And even though they didn’t understand it all at the time, as Jesus returned with them, Mary kept all these sayings in her heart. It painted and effected how she thought and how she lived out life.

I’m not a trained Bible scholar so I’m not going to get into hashing out Daniel’s dream here. But I do care about it and I care about Daniel’s character and how he handled the word of God, whether written Scripture, oral tradition, or visions. And I do care about Mary’s character and how she handled the same, including the life and actions of her own son, our Jesus Christ. And I do care what I can learn from their examples before me.

It’s such an easy trap to fall into to intellectualize God’s word, to hide it in my heart by just memorizing and being able to spout it out in a moment’s notice. But that’s not the same as meditating over it and asking God’s help to understand it His way and be able to live it out in my life His way. And Lord, You went so far to make it clear on how to live it, that You sent Jesus to demonstrate it in real life for me and for each person.

I know by Daniel’s actions and not just his words that he truly believed and acted upon that belief. Had he been one of the 12 spies sent into the promised land, he would have been a Joshua. Like the Psalmist who shared, “In God I have put my trust: I will not be afraid of what man can do unto me,” (Psalm 56:11) so was Daniel. And Mary was learning the same in a world not favorable to women at all. And each of us has the ability and the wonderful opportunity to learn what it is to truly trust in and rely on a God who cares and is intimately involved with us, a God who sacrificed His only Son for those who had turned from Him and denied His way to follow their own. I mean, how great a love is that?


Maybe if we took time to ponder and hide that down in our hearts so that it could take effect and reshape every bit of our being, maybe then our lives would resemble what they were created for- to be Your image bearers, Lord. So today, Lord, let Daniel and Mary and Your working as a living God be our example and may we let You change our thinking and our actions until we are Your spitting images in a world that needs to not only see You and be amazed, but needs to know You and be changed.

The Inward Part of Prayer


“But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly.” Matthew 6:6

I saw “War Room” last week and it was a wonderful movie.  But that’s not what is moving me to meditate on prayer.  Lord, You were already at work at that and this is just where You have brought me today.  With all the other truths You’ve been having me mull over and meditate on, this has been something that’s been floating around in my thoughts and heart and today is the day to begin putting it into words and solidifying it.

I think there is a lot more to Your idea of prayer than meets the eye.  It was the same thing with Your idea of giving.  But before I even talk about that, I just want to understand Your perspective on pray, because maybe my perspective and Your perspective don’t line up like they ought to, like they need to.  So give me open eyes and an open heart to understand Your perspective.

If I google the types of prayer, I see lists that range from the four types of prayer to twenty-one.  I see things like thanksgiving, worship, fasting, intercession, faith, corporate prayer, consecration, and more.  Here in Matthew, Jesus tells us, “But you, when you pray…”  This is for me and this is for when I pray.  It’s the word “proseuchomai” and it’s all about praying to God, about supplication, sharing our needs, and worship.  It’s not just one kind of praying.  It’s the whole gamut.

But here’s the problem.  We’re feeble, we’re weak.  Paul knew it.  He shared, “[l]ikewise the Spirit also helps our weaknesses: ‘because what we may pray as we ought, we do not know’: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.  And He that searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”  (Romans 8:26-27)  It’s not that we don’t know how to pray; it’s a problem of not knowing what to pray.  The problem is that I think finitely.  I only see the little picture in front of me, not the big picture.  Therefore, I don’t know on my own how to pray for and after Your will, God.  So, I don’t know the best way to pray in unison with You unless You show me.

I wonder if learning this is the beginning of praying in faith.  I mean, what if I learned to just worship You and lift You up and recall in prayer Your word and Your promises and Your Youness.  I wonder If I just lifted You up more and commended every situation and need to You and didn’t worry so much about asking You how to fix them, but I just trusted You to do the right thing in every situation and just focussed on You, if that might open the door to my drawing nearer to the Spirit and if my heart wouldn’t line up more closely with Yours.  Maybe even that way, I would be less effected by my circumstances because I wouldn’t be thinking about them so much.  That way, I wouldn’t be upset because You didn’t work things out my way.  That way, I might really just submit to You and basque in the beauty and wonder of who You are instead of basquing in the difficulties.

I mean I already know that I have a problem with my heart being decietful and desperately wicked.  It’s part of our humanness.  But I also know that there is Someone who knows the depths of my heart and can make me aware of it’s deceit.  And I know that this Someone who has the power to search my heart and test my heart and change my heart and teach me about my heart, has placed His Spirit there within my heart to give me the mind of Christ instead of my own mind.  So the One who searches my heart and knows the mind of the Spirit within my heart, allows Him to pray for me, and allows me to learn to be unified in that prayer.  I may not always understand the words, but the heart of the prayer is faith, by trusting the One who loves me so greatly.  So I make my prayer all about Him and He takes care of the rest.

So when I pray, it’s not for public scrutiny, it’s personal to and about God whether I pray corporately or in my own private nook.  My time with God is truly my time with You, Lord.  I get away, alone with You.  You even did that as an example when You were with Your disciples.  You took them to a dessert place and You withdrew from them to be with Your Heavenly Father.  I need to do the same.  I need to get alone and shut the door to shut the world out, to shut others momentarily out.  Why?  I need to be wholly under Your influence.  In a sense, I need to shut myself out because I need to set myself aside and open myself to You.  I need to worship You, my Father.  I need to get private and personal.  I need to get in You and I need You to get in me.  I need to get so personal that it reaches my inward parts and that I reach Your inward parts.  I need to throw all superficiallity away.

You see the inward parts of me, every one,  no matter the condition.  And when I see the inward parts of You and Your condition of holiness, I absolutely know how much I need You and how utterly dependent I am upon You and upon Your working in me.  And You promise that when I come to You like this, You see into the inward parts, the secret depths of me I can’t reach and fathom, the secret depths of You I can’t reach and fathom on my own, and You “reward me openly.”  That means You give it up to me.  When I worship You, You bring Your truths to pass.  When I worship You, I see You.  When I worship You, I experience You, I come to know You and see through Your perspective.  You make the secret known.  You reveal Your inward Self.  And You reveal Yourself openly.

The beauty of that word is that it means “shining.”  You shine Yourself on me, over me, in me, through me.  You make Yourself and Your ways apparent.  You reveal the internal You, externally to me.  You appear.  I come to know.   You make Yourself manifest.  The inward is seen outwardly.  The secret is revealed.

See, my Father already knows what I need, and my Father, You have it under control.  What I need to do when I pray is remember who You are.  I need to remind myself and revel in the fact that You are not only my Father, but the Father of those I’m praying for.  We are in this faith together.  I need to remember that You alone are holy and all that that means.  I need to remember that it’s all about Your kingdom and that Your kingdom is coming and You have invited me to be a part of bringing that to pass.  Your will is everything.  I must pray to know it and to do it and to be united with You in it.  I need to be reminded in worship that You are the one providing all my daily needs.  I need to be reminded as I worship that You are the One who has forgiven me so greatly, therefore I am to forgive others so greatly.  I need to be reminded as I worship You that I need You to keep me holy and to lead me in Your ways and away from sin and evil.  I need to be continually reminded through worshipping You and being alone with You that the kingdom is and was and always will be Yours, that all power belongs to You and falls under You, and that You are the only truly glorious One, and that You are all that You are forever and ever without end. Amen.

This is prayer.  This is what I’m called to find a quiet place to sit alone with You in and pursue.  This is worship.  This is trust.  This is faith.  This is how I’m constantly reminded of who You are so that my feeble mind and my feeble body won’t stray like a silly sheep.  This is prayer.

Do I know what I worship?  Really, do I know Who I worship?  Jesus said, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know…But the hour is coming, and is here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him.  God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  (John 4:22-24)  Lord, teach me.  I need You desperately and inwardly and outwardly.  I need You.  I need to be reminded.  I need to be refilled.  I need to understand Your perpective.   I’m in desperate need to worship You in spirit and truth.  Lead me there and hold me there as I commit to seek You there in the secret inward place where You are found.

A Lofty Perspective


Photo credit to http://www.birdingisfun.com

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28

This morning I woke up to a dream, only, my dream was more like a scene than what you think of as a dream.  I was standing in the grass.  At first all you could see were my feet and the grass and the dirt I was standing in.  But then it was as though I stood back from myself and looked and I saw not only the grass around my feet, but behind me was a corn field that had been harvested.  And I stepped back further from myself and looked again and now I could see me standing in the grass and dirt, and the cornfield all harvested and beyond, all the way to the mountains and the sky in the distance.  And I knew that today, I would be looking at things through a broader perspective.

So this is the image I woke up to this morning and this verse rang out in my mind, “I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from where my help comes from.”  (Psalm 121:1)  So, why is it a good thing to lift up my eyes to the hills?  And why does my help come from the hills?  And why does my perspective matter?  And what does that have to do with all things working together for my good?  And why is it true only for those who love God?  And why is it true only for those who have been called by God and answered that call according to His purpose?

The Psalmist in Psalm 25:1 declares, “To You, O LORD, I lift up my soul.”  “To You, God, I “nasa” my soul.”  What does that mean?  Can I lift up my soul separate from who I am?  Or when I lift up my soul to the Lord as the Psalmist, am I giving all of me?  Is this an offering back to the Lord all He has created in me?  Let’s take in a perspective that Skip Moen shares here.  “In Hebrew thought, you are nephesh, the whole homogenized uniqueness that makes you the person you are.  You are who you are because you are animated by divine breath and there is no separating you and this power of vitalization while you live.  Considering this, the psalmist makes a startling declaration.  To lift up one’s nephesh is essentially to offer one’s very life.  But how unusual.  The offer is made to the very One who provides that life.  It is an offer to return something borrowed.  This is sacrificial suicide.”  O.K.  So I am giving back to You, Lord, what You have already given me.  You made me and gave me life and I give it back to You.  I suppose the only actual thing I own is sin.  But when I give You back what I borrowed, You even lift up that sin with it, cancel the debt, and continue my life in Your grace.

Now, I need to take that into perspective with the Psalm about lifting my eyes up unto the hills.  That’s where my help comes from.  Who is my help?  You are, Lord.  And I look unto the hills because I look unto You.  But this is the thing about mountains and hills, sometimes we become distracted by them because of our perspective.  In all truth, You alone are to be the High and Lifted Up One.  But often, we set other things up on the mountain tops and worship them.  But what was lifted up before the Israelites when the snake bites came?  What did Moses lift up?  What were the people to lift their eyes unto?  Wasn’t that serpent on the rod a symbol of You, Jesus?  Weren’t they being called to focus on Your promise, to focus their trust on You?  Is it any different for me today?

I lift up my eyes unto the hills.  That’s where my help comes from.  I lift up my eyes, my eyes which direct where my body and my mind and thoughts go.  I lift up my eyes and my “nephesh,” my whole being and soul and person, and I look to You in expectation and in commitment.  I look to the cross upon which You were lifted up for my sake and the sake of every person ever.  I look on You upon that cross because I’ve been bitten by the lethal bite of Sin.  There is no other remedy for me.  Unless I look up to You, unless I turn to You with all of my being, unless I trust in You with all my philosophy, all my theology, all my lifeology, with every part of me, I will not and I cannot live.

Now, where does my help come from?  Well, sometimes we choose our own hills, with our own philosophies and theologies.  But what if I only let You, Lord, stand on the hill and look to You alone for my help?  What is help?  This is the Hebrew word “ezer.”  And the funny thing here is that it goes back and is used for the woman’s role in the family.  But it paints an even bigger picture.  Skip Moen shares, “Christ serves the Church by providing it with life and the Church serves Christ by enabling His purposes and goals to become a reality in this world and the next. “  Keep listening to hear how this “ezer” idea works.  Oh, and by the way,  isn’t that something how this ties in with Romans 8:28?

Now this may seem to be a jump, but we’re going to go back to Genesis and look at man and woman and their roles.  Just bear with me here.  “Apply that same logic to the Genesis account.  The man is the source of the woman (from ish comes ishshah).  But the man is not the authority over the woman (that doesn’t occur until the man makes it so after the Fall).  The man is mutually submitted to the woman in order that they may both fulfill the purposes of God.  But just like the Church, the woman exists because of the man and her role is to insure that the goals and purposes of the man become reality.  She serves him, not as slave or domestic attendant, but as the one who is committed to do whatever is necessary to bring about God’s will in his life.  And as Hegg says, if this goal is eclipsed by anything else, no matter how important, the real purpose of her existence will be diminished.”  (Skip Moen)  I can’t help but think about that.  My husband’s goal is to help me fulfill the purposes of God.  My goal is to help my husband fulfill the purposes of God.  We are to be mutually committed to do whatever is necessary to bring about God’s will in each other’s lives.  And this is the picture for every believer.  This is the picture for what we call the Church.  Our goal is to lift You, Lord, up over every hill and to do whatever is necessary to bring about Your will in our lives and the lives around us.  This is how the family of God works.  And if this is not our perspective, then it’s not working God’s way.

So, now that I know that, I can jump up to Romans 8:28.  When You, Lord, are lifted up in my life above everything, above every false idea or false theology or selfish desire, then I can know Your purposes and plan for me and those around me.  Then I can know that whether I am standing in the dirt or the flood or the grass or on parched land, that You are still working all things for my good in You.  I can take my eyes off of my situation and look up unto the hill where I have lifted You up to Your proper place.  And when I look at things Your way, through Your perspective, I can take the focus off of me and work towards enabling and building up those around me in You and Your purposes.  I can help lead them to see the bigger picture of You.  But I won’t look up beyond my immediate situation if I don’t really love You, because honest to goodness love requires a response.  It requires action.  You don’t really love if You don’t act upon that love.  Empathy and true compassion are two totally different creatures.  Remember, God SO LOVED the world, that He acted upon it.  He GAVE His ONLY SON.  What about me?  Do I really love You?   Do I really love others?  Am I answering Your call with the actions You require?  Am I fulfilling Your purpose in me and enabling them to fulfill Your purpose in them?

I can fill a shoebox, or give a volleyball, or share the Gospel through balloons, but am I really investing myself in the life of another?  Am I investing myself in You in them?  “We are to be mutually committed to do whatever is necessary to bring about God’s will in each other’s lives.”  How deeply am I committed?  Do I SO LOVE God?  Do I SO LOVE anyone else?  Am I acting upon it?  What would I really give?  How much would I be willing for it to cost me?  And I wonder if what I’ve been calling love, is really love at all.  Because if it doesn’t match up to Your love, it’s not love at all.  I suppose it all boils down to perspective.  But it’s not my perspective that matters.  Unless my perspective lines up fully with Yours, I’m still stuck staring at my feet and I miss the greatest treasure of all– participating in Your purposes in the most beautifully and powerfully committed family ever—the TRUE FAMILY OF GOD.  Lord, give me a right perspective, YOURS!

The Assayer’s Apprentice


Photo found at http://www.mgsrefining.com/

“but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the Gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.”  1 Thessalonians 2:4

So, Lord, if I’m still searching into what it is to believe, at least, what it means to You for me to believe, then where is the word “believe” here?  Well, I had to look at the Greek to find it.  It’s that word “to be entrusted.”  That’s where I find “pisteuo.”  And it seems that believing is a trust that You give me.  That Your Good News from the beginning of time in Jesus Christ was “allowed of God” to be put in my trust.  I was given it not just to believe in my head, but to act upon every part of it.

But what in the world does this “allowed” or “approved” by God part mean?  Does this mean that God gave me permission to pass on what I believe?  Did he approve of me as a believer?  Does this mean I passed the test and won this right or privilege?  What does that Greek word “dokimazo” mean?

“Dokimazo” actually mean a lot more than met my eyes when I first read this.  I suppose, Lord, that’s why You want us to really dig into Your word like we’re searching for treasure, because sometimes we have to look deeper.  We can’t always get all the precious nuggets out unless we take the time to look closer.  I’ll find nuggets, but I may miss the mother load.

The word that Paul is using here for how You, Lord, came to entrust me with Your Gospel has to do with testing and discerning.  It’s a two tier word.  I have to do the testing in order to be able to discern.  Or I have to go through the testing in order to discern.  It’s the same word that is used in Romans 12:2 where Paul tells us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  What dokimazo means is “to watch, to determine what is reliable, of value.”  I learn Your will by coming under testing.  I am to “test the spirits.”  I am to test myself.  I am to test the times.   But what am I testing?  What am I trying out?  I’m testing Your word, I’m trying it out by acting upon it, and as I do, I find it’s worth and receive discernment.  But if I spend my whole life analyzing and evaluating Your word instead of applying it, I won’t ever experience it’s truth in my life.

Simply, because I hear Your word, I try it, I do it.  I practice Your practices.  I don’t have to understand them or know why but I trust You and do what You say I should and act the ways You say are right and believe what You tell me I need to believe.  I avoid what You tell me to.  I get into the “culture” of Jesus Christ.  I practice what You practice and I practice what the believers in the Bible practiced and I practice what other followers are faithfully doing on the basis of Your word.  It gets absorbed in my being.  And as I put Your word to the test in my life by acting in it, I will come to know Your will, “the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  And I won’t just know what things are good and acceptable and perfect, but I will come to experience being good in Your eyes, being accepted by You, and being perfected in You.

I can test God’s will and come to know it.  That word “dokimazo” again, brings about transformation.  Looking at things this way,  through Your eyes, Lord, causes me to transform my life patterns and it causes me to renew my mind because it changes the way I think.  See, Adam and Eve fell first because they thought about the fruit according to their own eyes and not according to the way You saw it.  They thought they could see clearly on their own.  But we only see clearly and rightly when we look through Your eyes and see things Your way.   I have to see things Your way in order to know Your perfect will.

When I allow You to incorporate “dokimazo” into my life, I can get there.  Remember, it means “to test, to discern, to distinguish and to approve as a result of testing.”  Do you know where that word came from?  It was a word used by metal assayers.  You would put the metal under the fire to test it’s purity.  Then it would be placed on the scale.  What was left was the real metal.  The assayer’s job was to prove what was true gold.  And I am to be like that.  As You have transformed me, I am to determine Your true will.  Your process for doing that is guaranteed.  It will have the results You intended.  You are telling me that I, and every believer, can know Your perfect will.  I can pray the way You intend for me to pray.  I can live in accord with Your purposes.  I can live in Your word and fulfill Your will for me.  You’ve designed it to work that way.  See, You are the Assayer and I am being apprenticed under You to learn to assay myself and all things placed in front of me.  And I must remember, I am learning under the Master Assayer!

Paul reminds me again in Philippians 1:10 that this is “so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ.”  See, Lord, You are busy in me.  And You are teaching me to be busy in me.  You are calling me to join in with You to prove my inner value.  But our value, according to You, is in the “essential spiritual qualities of a person.”  I can see that value through Your eyes if I go back to the Old Testament.   If I go back to Jeremiah 11:20 I see what You are doing, Lord.  You “judge righteously, that tries the reins and the heart…”  You are testing me, each of us in order to make us Your workmanship in Your image.  But here You are giving us a responsibility.  You are giving me the responsibility to judge and test myself, my quality.  How do I do that?  I take on Your perspective and I do it as You would do it.  I delve deeply within myself to see what I find.  I judge it according to Your standards.

How did I ever get this responsibility that used to only be Yours in the Old Testament?  Paul gives me the answer in 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”  Therefore, God resides in me because He resides in His temple.  You are God with us, Emmanuel.  Since You dwell inside of me, I have the power to see the world through Your eyes and according to Your ways and Your standards.  I can see things through Your perspective.  Because of You, I can do the testing.  My Master Teacher lives inside of me and is always teaching me His perspective.  The question is, will I listen and live it out?  Will I do it Your way?

When You “approved” me, it wasn’t because You found me worthy.  You are making me worthy in You and teaching me to see and value worth Your way.  And every time I agree with Your perspective and see things Your way and act upon them, that Good News You’ve entrusted to me shines brighter and is shown to be more and more alive.  It’s not easy, learning to examine and test myself like You do, but it’s worth every fire I have to go through.  So, Lord, keep teaching me and showing me how to go through the fires of testing and come out like pure gold on the other side.  And the other side isn’t heaven.  The other side is every time I come out of the fire, after every trial.  I want to come out having been transformed to be more like You, to have come out on the pure side, letting my impurities be burned away.  Someday, I’ll be on the heaven side, but until then, I want to be always living on Your side of perspective, in the side where I am pleased by what pleases You, where You and I are continually enjoying each other together in life.  Thanks for making me able to be entrusted with Your Gospel so that I can be made pleasing to You and You become everything that is pleasing to me.