I Have Nothing

That’s right, ladies and gents: I had nothing planned for today.

Not a single post. Not a single idea. Not a single word.

I generally like to stay on top of things and map out a little in advance, but today? Nothing.

So instead of coming up a post and haphazardly publishing it, I was thinking about “having nothing” on my drive into work this morning. This got me thinking my spiritual posture toward God.

Often the notion I hold onto is that I need to bring something to God in order to gain approval.

A slick prayer of gratitude.
An act of service toward a friend.
An spotless Sunday attendance record.
A hearty tithe check in the offering plate.
An attitude of a “good Christian”.

But you know what? When my heart is in the wrong place, God’s word says that “all my righteous acts are like filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). That is sobering, yet life-giving. It eliminates the performance and brings an acceptance of His grace to the table.

Today, I want to be reminded that God does not want my “doing”. He does not want all the things that I do to lift myself up in the process. He is holy, set apart. I am nothing without His grace and mercy.

What do you mistakenly think you need to “bring to God” sometimes? How do you map out your blog posts?

 

54 Comments

  • bill (cycleguy)

    May 27, 2011

    While I believe very strongly in grace and am very much a grace-oriented person, there are times I wonder if I skip my Quiet Time will He be disappointed in me? The answer is No but sometimes… Glad you brought nothing today Dustin. This was well-needed.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      May 27, 2011

      thanks Bill… appreciate the encouragement.

      Reply
  • Matthew Snider

    May 27, 2011

    I am with bill, my quiet times are few and far between, does he mad at me or?

    As for mapping out blog posts. It’s all about the kids and what time they go to bed. I have been two weeks out with content and have been writing at 6:30am.

    Just posted up 3 for review on churchm.ag also for John.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      May 27, 2011

      You’re a machine, Matthew – 2 weeks worth of content. :) I’m impressed!

      Reply
  • Jim F

    May 27, 2011

    I sometimes think I need to bring my good works to God then He will… faulty thinking from me at the outset with that and I know better but I find myself there at times.

    Mapping blog post normally has to do with what Scripture or topic that I am studying but sometimes like today’s post – something will strike me and I will feel compelled to write it.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      May 27, 2011

      I like that about your posts, Jim – they seem to flow out of your times with God – laden with scripture.

      Reply
  • John

    May 27, 2011

    I tend to feel the need to bring to God my committment to Him. I get worried that I am not as devoted as I should be and that things will go wrong.

    As far as my blog posts, I just write once a day for the next day. Every now and then I will write a few posts at one time and schedule them but I usually just let it flow.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      May 27, 2011

      I think He wants our commitment – but here’s the thing, what is that? a pledge? setting aside our devotion for Him? while those things are good things, I need to be reminded that He loves no matter what.

      Reply
  • Moe

    May 27, 2011

    I can’t do nothing to win God’s favor. With that said, I can disappoint him. He expects some disciplines from us, but even when we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. How good a God we serve huh?

    I have about 123 drafts of posts that I have brainstormed and some of them get no attention. In moments of inspirations I write some notes down and say, “this will make a great post”. Then when I go back to it, I begin to think to myself, “What was I thinking”? Then that’s when I go into my bathtub with no clothes on and turn the water on and cry out, “Finkle is Einhorn, Einhorn is Finkle… Einhorn is a… man”. Then that gives me inspiration for my posts. #truth

    Reply
    • Donald Borsch Jr

      May 27, 2011

      I can’t do nothing to win God’s favor. With that said, I can disappoint him. He expects some disciplines from us, but even when we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. How good a God we serve huh?
      ———————

      Moe beat me to this. Couldn’t have said it any better, really.

      Balance. It is a balance between His Fatherly love and our wishing to be Father-pleasers.

      Reply
    • Dustin

      May 27, 2011

      123 drafts. Love it.

      Also, wise words my friend – like Donald said, I believe it’s a balance as well. Regardless, He remains faithful.

      Reply
  • Tom

    May 27, 2011

    It seems quite a few mornings in my quiet time I tell God I have nothing. In considering your question I am wondering if I really need to bring Him me to that place. The place is not holy. He will meet me where I am. Always.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      May 27, 2011

      “He will meet me where I am” – so true. I’m grateful for that.

      Reply
  • Michael

    May 27, 2011

    I used to keep 2 weeks worth of posts scheduled a head of time. Not any more. I write each day and I post. I have no clue what will go live for Monday. And I like it better that way.

    Reply
    • Joseph

      May 27, 2011

      I’m with you Michael… I write the night before I’m to publish it. It just works out best for me that way.

      Reply
      • Michael

        May 27, 2011

        Yeah. I will say that I will write in the AM most of the time and hold off until the evening to publish.

        Reply
        • Dustin

          May 29, 2011

          That’s interesting, Michael! B/c you know I look to you as inspiration (really). :) Here’s my thing- 9/10 times I’m writing a post the night before of the morning of (since I try to publish first thing before heading to work). But….. I’d like to create a repository of sorts that has 10 posts in reserve, just in case… and hopefully allow me to be flexible if I feel lead to publish differently on a certain day.

          Reply
  • Keri

    May 27, 2011

    I think God’s needs me talents…but, He really doesn’t. He could make something awesome out of my failures. Talents and gifts are good, too. But, He really doesn’t need them to show His glory. In fact, we are told that it is in my weakness that His strength is made known.

    It’s really hard for me to plan out my posts, because my blog is so reactive. That’s actually one of the harest parts for me because I kinda have to think on the fly, and I don’t always have time for thinking when I’m taking care of the kids.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      May 29, 2011

      You’re right Keri – I hadn’t thought about planning in a blog like yours- a lot of current events, media, etc. I hear you, also, with kids…. they take up a little bit of your time, I’m sure. :)

      Reply
  • kristinherdy

    May 27, 2011

    I think God can, like a parent, be disappointed with my offering, can be pleased with my offering, but it’s not going to change the fact that he loves me. I’m not going to change his love for me because I mess up or do something great.

    Posts. Sometimes I plan them out, but I never plan out more than 1 per week, so that I can leave room to be moved by the Spirit.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      May 29, 2011

      It’s not going to change the fact that He loves us – love that.

      Reply
  • Cindy Holman

    May 27, 2011

    Wow. Not sure. I’m a pleaser to a certain extent – raised in a music ministers home – then married to a pastor. I learned how to put it on when I needed to – use my musical talents to please others. As far as my blog – I don’t have a plan. Been writing for 2 1/2 years now – and haven’t run out of ideas yet – well once in a while – but I feel inspired most of the time to share what I share – so I know that’s a God thing.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      May 29, 2011

      Thanks for the comment, Cindy. I’ll be honest- maybe it’s an insecurity- but I’m afraid I’ll run out of things to write sometimes…. Ha :)

      Reply
  • Marlee

    May 27, 2011

    Hi Dustin!
    I love that you just brought your heart to the table here and I love that you asked two completely different questions at the end.

    I think I mistakenly fall into the “enough” trap. Like, did I pray enough, read enough, serve enough. As though by doing more and I’m closer to the mark. It can be a dangerous place to be because then when I fall short of this arbitrary mark I’ve set for myself, I feel condemned (which isn’t at all from God). Operating out of that place of grace is essential.

    Thanks for this “nothing”- it’s really quite something. :)

    Reply
    • Dustin

      May 29, 2011

      Sweet. Loved this comment, Marlee. Thanks for the encouragement. I think I can sometimes enter into that mode of thinking as well (“Enough”) – in the end, you’re right, it focuses on the performance, rather than grace.

      Reply
  • Justin

    May 27, 2011

    If his grace is sufficient for me – than what could I bring? Often, I’m reminded that I just need to breathe an be still before Him. I don’t do enough of that.

    My blog? Well, I’m usually writing every day. Sometimes I build on thoughts and they grow into stories or posts. Sometimes, my thoughts get put down on paper and that’s the actual post. Lately, I’ve been in a season of allowing the Spirit to indicate to me what I should be posting. If I don’t do that – my content doesn’t read authenticity to me. In other words, I’m trying to stay out of the “post something to gain comments or stats” game.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      May 29, 2011

      Justin, I like that about your blog/words – you share what’s going on and I’ve always senses wholehearted authenticity. Really appreciate that about you and the comments you leave.

      Reply
  • David Miles

    May 27, 2011

    I mistakenly think I need to bring God my success. I think I often find myself feeling as though God will be proud of me if I am successful and yet like you said, it’s all filthy rags…

    In regards to blogging, I use Evernote to track my blogging ideas but I don’t formally schedule posts as much as I would like to. I find my schedule is so crazy that it’s hard to always post when I plan on posting.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      May 29, 2011

      I agree with you on both points! Really, does He need our success and accomplishments? Hardly.

      I use Evernote as well. I have drafts in WordPress, but if I’m thinking of something, I’ll type it into Evernote right on the spot. Works for me.

      Reply
  • Joseph

    May 27, 2011

    I use to wonder if he was disappointed with my worship. And I can still sometimes think this. I’m a very reserved worshiper. I don’t make a huge scene. I just like to be still and connect with God during worship. This can sometimes leave me thinking did I hold back any? I also had an issue with comparing my worship to how others worshiped. We have all been through different experiences so we are going to worship him differently.

    I usually write the night before or even sometimes the day of. I’ve read that “good” bloggers have content stored up. This works for me though. I’m a writer who just sits and writes and it most of the time flows out.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      May 29, 2011

      Ha, I liked how you quoted “good”. Nice. :)

      Not just with worship, but I can relate to what you said about comparing Joseph. I think it is easy to do that in other areas as well (possessions, accomplishments, personality traits, etc). For me, it propels me to want to outdo/perform/etc…. Ultimately, during those times my heart isn’t in the right place.

      Reply
  • Ryan Tate

    May 27, 2011

    Great post today Dustin. Got me examining my heart. Which is what God wants. He wants me to know him and to “choose life” (Deut 3:30). That is what I need to bring, just me. Nothing else.

    As for blogging, I sometimes write on the spot like Perkins. But I also have about 15 drafts that are in process of being written. I keep a list on Evernote for ideas and notes. I try to schedule two days in advance, but most of the time do a final edit and post it on the same day.

    Reply
    • Donald Borsch Jr

      May 27, 2011

      I’m old school, I reckon. I keep a spiral notebook nearby and scribble ideas down as they hit me. I knowest not of this Ever-Note thou speakest.

      Reply
      • Dustin

        May 29, 2011

        Evernote, check it out D. It’s nice for me because it’ll sync notes between devices (or computers). But……. I use an old school notebook as well to scribble down ideas as well. :)

        Reply
    • Dustin

      May 29, 2011

      Choose Life. Excellent- thanks for sharing that Ryan. And for the verse!

      Reply
  • Michelle

    May 27, 2011

    I read this book which talked about filthy rags being like refrigerator art. Our kids give us art, but the best they can do (talking young kids here) is give us some scribbles and even at their best, its still not Picaso. You shake your head and say “oh cool” but you have no idea what they drew. So even at our best, the point of the chapter was saying, that’s the best we can give God, but the good thing is — it really is good enough because its not about us, it’s about Him.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      May 29, 2011

      Funny enough, Ragamuffin Gospel (the latest book I just finished) had a similar illustration with children and prayers. So often we try to pray these elaborate and flashy prayers to please God… whereas our kids pray these simple prayers that truly speak their hearts.

      Thanks for sharing, michelle!

      Reply
  • Jon

    May 27, 2011

    I love when God just hits you with posts out of nowhere!

    I know there have been times where I mistakenly think that I have to have it all together when I come to God. That I have to sugarcoat things–but my best moments with God are when I just say things like they are–no facade, no rationalizations.

    I don’t really plan out my posts per se–it’s more of what comes to mind as I go about my day. I read something, watch something, or listen to something, and I’m like Oh that could be a great post. Life lessons..ya know?

    Great post bro!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      May 29, 2011

      thanks, jon. those are some good thoughts (“sugarcoat” “have it all together”). i think that way sometimes as well, but you’re right – when we come to the realization that we remember that he is Holy (completely set a part), that stuff doesn’t really matter…

      Reply
  • Mark

    May 27, 2011

    I love in the movie Cool Hand Luke when Paul Newman’s character “Luke” after bluffing and winning a big pot in a game of prison-house poker says: “Yeah, well, sometimes nothin’ can be a real cool hand. …” Well, sometimes Nothin can result in a pretty cool blog!

    When it comes to my blogs/posts, after consulting the magic 8-ball and listening to some of the voices in my head,(while ignoring others) I jot down about eight or nine ideas for the week. Many times only one or two of these ideas make it to the big screen, and they almost always go a different direction than what I had originally intended. I also pick up several additions and blog alterations during my mediation and Bible study time.

    The only thing I need to bring or give to God is a servants heart, and my best. This comes in the form of obedience- and allowing the Holy Spirit to work through me. Does God need this? Well, probably not…but he does require it. I do at times try to barter with God like HE is a vendor in a Mexican boarder town…This my friends is a monumental mistake!

    Reply
    • Dustin

      May 29, 2011

      Great comment, Mark. I’ve never seen Cool Hand Luke, but have many friends who love it. Maybe I should check it out someday. I know it’s a “classic”. I like what you had to say about a servants heart – I agree.

      And…. funny that you mention bartering with a vendor in a Mexican border town. I grew up southern CA and would go down to Tijuana every now and then. I remember bartering, as a kid, for ninja stars, brass knuckles, and chiclets. :)

      Reply
      • Donald Borsch Jr

        May 29, 2011

        “What we have here….is a failure….to communicate.”

        D. That is a famous line from Cool Hand Luke. You need to say it aloud with a Southern accent bordering on pure redneck, while wiping the seat off your face and neck with a dirty handkerchief. (Strother Martin in da house!)

        Reply
  • Jason Vana

    May 27, 2011

    I am somewhat of a perfectionist, so I used to struggle big time with having to be perfect for God to accept me. It wasn’t really a conscious mindset, but I realized that I was getting uber involved, trying not to sin, making sure I was reading enough of my bible each day so as to win his love.

    Thankfully, he broke that out of me.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      May 29, 2011

      Me too Jason – I think we’re similar in a lot of ways!

      Reply
  • Ben

    May 27, 2011

    Definitely my quiet time that I often skip-out on. He doesn’t need it, but He knows I do.

    As for mapping out blog posts? I’m still trying to figure out the most efficient way, but as soon as I start a “system” it becomes a chore, so I go back to doing it “as I feel it” as I enjoy it more this way.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      May 29, 2011

      I’m still in that figuring out mode right now. I don’t want it to be burdensome, but my mind always reverts to processes and best-practices, so I can’t help but try to figure out a system. :)

      Reply
  • Larry Hehn

    May 27, 2011

    Sometimes I think I need to be speaking in order to pray, when it would probably do me better to be quiet and listen.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      May 29, 2011

      Quiet and listen – I need to do more of that also. Thanks for sharing, Larry.

      Reply
  • Bryan Thompson

    May 27, 2011

    Hey Dustin, how often I think we still have the misguided notion that we must be good enough to call out to God. I often can still hold onto such a feeling of guilt for all I’ve messed up with – been impatient with my kids, said the wrong thing at the wrong time, etc. God doesn’t require any of this. Just me. God only wants me. And all of us. Great thoughts, my friend.

    Reply
    • Dustin

      May 29, 2011

      Cool, thanks Bryan. I do think we hold onto that guilty feeling from time to time when we try to “be good enough”. In the end, we’ll never be there and we’ll keep trying and trying and trying…

      Reply
  • Alex Humphrey

    May 28, 2011

    This is really good, man. The hardest prayers for me are the ones when I don’t have anything to show God. Those are also the ones He asks for the most

    Reply
    • Dustin

      May 29, 2011

      Yes! thanks for sharing, alex.

      Reply
  • Arny

    May 28, 2011

    sorry for the late comment dustin!!!

    I always feel i need to bring God a perfect prayer…you know…like if i don’t talk “normal” to him he wont here me…i feel i have to sound, i don’t know, um… proper?…

    And the way I map out my blogs is easy…and hard cause i gotta keep up with the themes…

    happy monday, top 5 tuesday, anything on thursday…and weekend for thoughts on fridays…

    Reply
    • Dustin

      May 29, 2011

      no worries, buddy. thanks for stopping back around and for the comment. i hear ya on the prayer – i want to remember that God doesn’t require flashy prayers as well.

      btw, i enjoy your themes! :)

      Reply

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