Browse Category: Straight From The Word

A Gorgeous Take On What May Seem Ugly

A while back, Jen and I went on a little run. We dropped the kids off at the in-laws’ and spent a couple hours trekking through a local greenway. We got to experience the sunrise and a couple breathtaking views (we also ran some trails along the water). It was gorgeous!

In one part of the greenway, we ran through a brief stretch of marshland. It was a little swampy, wet, and not the most attractive site. So as we were running past mile 2 or 3, Jen turns to me and says, “This is gorgeous.”

Wow.

Immediately it hit me. Here I was thinking, “People probably run through this stretch every day thinking it’s unattractive, dirty, and an unpleasant view. And my wife said the exact opposite.

Isn’t that a fair picture of how God views us versus what the world may say? The world may label us, “You are ugly. You are broken. You are messed up.” But then God enters the picture and interjects, “No, you are gorgeous. You are healed. You are redeemed!”

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)

I know I need to be reminded sometimes that God looks at my heart. There may be times that I feel messed up, hopeless, and broken. And in other’s eyes, they may see me as that – just a messed up guy. Thankfully, that is not the end. Christ has already entered the picture and claimed me as His son. He already said that I am made whole and full of hope!

Do you run? When was a time when you saw something “ugly” but it was, in fact, “beautiful”?

Why Surviving May Not Be Enough

“If I can just make it to the end of the day…”

“Things will be better tomorrow…”

From time to time those “survival thoughts” float to the surface of my mind. I often measure success by just surviving another day. Routinely, messages like the following get tossed around in my head…

  • If I can just coast through the conversation without having to deal with conflict, we will get along.
  • If my kids just take a good nap today, we’ll have a peaceful evening tonight.
  • If I can just read the Bible every day this week, I’ll start to develop this spiritual discipline.

This way of living can get tiring… real fast.

On Sunday, my pastor said something during his message that stuck with me all day: “We weren’t meant to just survive.”

Life in Christ brings freedom. I believe that. He also said that its important to remember that freedom involves not just avoiding the bad, but rather running toward the good. Now that is what I want to take hold of.

Jesus… brings abundant life (John 10:10), drives out fear (1 John 4:18), and welcomes all my concerns (Psalm 55:22).

Those are truths that I want to embrace every single day. The abundant life He promises allows me to thrive. The lack of fear in Him translates to more complete confidence. The fact that I don’t need to worry gives me freedom and peace.

Today, I will be running toward the good. I’ll be taking captive God’s truth and seizing the life that Christ promises.

How can you push surviving aside and embrace freedom today?

Imposter

“What is your biggest fear?”

Not sure I could pinpoint my biggest, but I know certain ones seem to surface more frequently than others. For example: Will I be able to always provide for my family? Am I raising my children the way God wants me to? Am I walking in the right direction?

In my men’s group last month, I was able to re-read John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart. One line in particular stuck out:

This is man’s deepest fear: to be exposed, to be found out, to be discovered as an imposter, and not really a man. (pg45)

Exposed.

In many ways, I feel like that appropriately summed up my feelings: that one day I am going to be exposed as a failure–specifically, a failure at being a husband, a father, a son. At times this fear feeds lies that one day I won’t be able to provide for and defend the ones who are the most dear to me: my family. Quite honestly, I do not think I am the only one who struggles with these feelings — we stand on the front lines of  a battleground with the Enemy. These fears, acted out in my life (ie. essentially choosing to believe the lies of failure, etc. over God’s truth of not only who He says I am, but also what He promises to those who call Him Father) are expressed in my people pleasing flesh, my desire to prove my worth, and my inclination to play it safe.

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13)

When that fear creeps in, I want to boldly clinch that verse in my fist and remember that comfort is found in the way God leads and guides my life. When I’m scared that I’m going to mess up, I can trust in Him. When I feel like what I do doesn’t matter, I can rely on His help. When I can’t discern what path to take, I can hold His hand.

How does that Eldredge quote resonate with you?

Photo credit: justinlee89

Show Me Your Glory

Encountering God though His Word...

 I started reading about the story of Moses in Exodus this morning and something that struck me: God showed himself to Moses more and more as he grew in his relationship with Him

Moses first encountered God in a real way during his burning bush experience. Not only was it a powerful event that kickstarted Moses’ adventure, but it also showed him a glimpse of God’s character. God was holy; completely set apart. Moses had to take off his sandals because he was standing on “holy ground”. 

Later in his life, Moses was given the chance to literally see more–the glory of God. After asking God to show him His glory, the Lord sent Moses to a place where he was able to see God. God took him up a mountain, to a special place, and had his “goodness to pass in front of him”. The Lord found favor with Moses, and revealed more of Himself to him. 

Moses was able to chronicle two defining moments in his life where he met God–two separate, distinct encounters where God made Himself known to Moses. Like Moses, today I am grateful that as we grow in relationship with God, He will reveal more of Himself to us. 

In many ways I feel like I can relate to Moses. I’m not the most eloquent speaker, and I’ve “fled from conflict” many times, but I’m thankful that the One I pursue is bigger than all those things. Through His grace and mercy, He still uses me and reveals more of Himself to me each day. 

Isn’t this similar to our lives as parents and leaders? We all have starting points, and we all have our sights set to something in the future. It may be a childhood dream, family vision or a personal goal. Be encouraged today that in the end God will use our shortcomings for His glory. Though it all, we will be more intimately acquainted with the God of Jacob as we grow in faith.

How have you seen God reveal Himself to you over time?

Photo credit: sobca

Hello, My Name is……

So many people, so many names...

We have loads of names that we call our children. Straight out of the gates we called them by their given name, then added in a couple nicknames, mixed with a few playful-funny names. Just to add to the choas, there is also the reality that the different “people groups” in their lives, refer to them by different names! C’mon, admit it—you do the same for your children! Be sure to share them below. In the meantime, here’s the rundown on some of the ‘handles’ we’ve verbalized over the years…

Sophia:

  • Sophia: Her given name, we tend to personally call her this most of the time.
  • Soph: Gaining traction as her most-used nickname.
  • Sophie: Natural nickname. A lot of friends and family call her this.
  • Head: No lie, she had a big head when she was born. Just like her daddy! (FYI: Pronounced like Mike Myers’ dad in So I Married An Axe Murderer.)
  • Tofy (toe-fee): Silly one that we used when she was a newborn.
  • Até (ah-tay): Tagalog for ‘sister’. This is what Olivia calls Soph right now.

Olivia:

  • Olivia: Her given name, and one we use for her majority of the time.
  • Ibia (ih-bee-ah): Think this was how Sophia pronounced her name when she was first born, and it stuck!
  • Ibs (like ‘cribs’, without the ‘cr’): A few people call her this. Cute. Not to be confused with I.B.S. (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).
  • Ebby (eh-bee): Flows easy. We’ve used this one a lot!
  • Chonky (chawn-kee): Kind of an immediate family thing. Not so much now, but she definitely was a chunky baby!

We laugh about some of these names from time to time. The thing is, despite the names that are given to us as children, by our families, friends, teachers, coaches, etc., at the end of the day, they fail to even scratch the surface of who we really are. The truth is, God’s names for us are inconceivably more meaningful, creative, and lasting, than anything we could have ever imagined on our own. He names us: cherished (Ex 19:5), redeemed (1 John 4:10), beloved (Rom 8:38-39), chosen (Eph 1:11-12), protected (Prov 18:10), and righteous (2 Cor 5:21). Regardless of our past or future, our Father will always call us by name (Isaiah 43:1). How cool is that?! The God of the universe personally and thoroughly knows you by name!

Today, God has reminded me of these names… and I’m grateful:

  • Child (John 1:12): God is BIG, yet He chooses to know me intimately.
  • New Creation (2 Cor 5:17): My old nature is gone, I don’t have to dwell on past mistakes.
  • Sealed (Eph 1:13): No matter the circumstance, the bond between myself and God cannot not be broken.

What nicknames do you have for your children? What name does God call you that you need to be reminded about today?

Photo credit: mollybucketx

Taking Comfort In Your Smallness

I know that my kids are small. My oldest daughter is what–maybe 3 feet and change? Do they know how tall I am? No, they just know that Daddy is “BIG”! Daddy runs faster, jumps higher, and flat out knows more things than they do. Not only are my girls physically petite, but they also have a limited viewpoint on life. They are in the here and now. Unlike their father, they can’t see/understand the whole picture! And guess what? They are okay with that.

In the same way, there is comfort in my smallness compared to the biggness of God. Yes, Jesus encourages us to not worry (Matthew 6:25-27) about provision. And yes, God tells us that He knows the plans laid out for us (Jeremiah 29:11). But, on top of those things, there is a peaceful calm in knowing that God is big and we are small. Those things (worrying about provision, future plans, etc.) can only be surrendered when we submit to the greatness of our Father. Acknowledging that truth guides us to a place of reverance… and stillness.

God is bigger than my needs. God is bigger than my professional career. God is bigger than my family. God is bigger than the biggest thing that I could think of. I’m thankful for that today.

Fill in the blank: “Today, I’m thankful that God is bigger than _______.”

Note: Post was inspired by Trevin Wax
Photo credit: bengston

A Bag of Doritos for a Broken Spirit

That is what went through my head over the weekend; and I thought to myself, “I stood silent when I could have said something.”

On Saturday, myself and the girls went to pickup some groceries at Wal-Mart along with 90% of those living in metro Atlanta. See, we had a “snow storm” brewing and the local news was prepping us for a potential 4-6 inches late Sunday night. You know what that means, right? Everyone scurries to their local grocer and buys 8 gallons of milk and 3 loaves of bread. Needless to say, the store was packed! We did our shopping and went to check out. That day, however, the lines were insane and we had to wait 25 minutes just to check out.

While waiting, there was a mother and son ahead of us. Right before we got in line apparently the little boy, maybe 8 yo, did something to anger his mother. The mother then proceeded to spend the next 20 minutes with her finger pointed at her son, explaining that he messed up and he wasn’t behaving like some of the other children waiting in line, even threatening to take his bag of Doritos away if he didn’t stop crying. Meanwhile the little boy was teary-eyed, his lip was quivering, and he was constantly shielding his face in embarrassment. What made me even more upset was that the boy couldn’t speak up for himself. He was using sign language and struggling to communicate his way through the situation. I didn’t know the entire story, but regardless, I was heartbroken for the kid. I wanted to speak up and say, “Child, you are worth it! You are important!” My heart ached for his spirit.

I was reminded that even in our sin, even in our depravity, Jesus advocates on our behalf. Even when we are unworthy to speak up for ourselves, he is on our side. He is above everything, knows everything, and accepts us nonetheless.

…we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. (1 John 2:1)

In our moments of deepest exasperation as parents, do we choose to leverage the respect and diminish the honor of our children, for our own vengeance? It would be all too easy to look upon this woman with contempt and judgement, but to truly search our hearts in humility, and in light of  Christ’s sacrifice is a far more humbling thing. How am I affirming and encouraging my children’s spirit and character? How can I show them that I will stand up for them on their behalf? How do I advocate for them at such a young age? As leaders of our households, lets engage readily, act promptly, and advocate constantly.

In what ways have you stood up for your spouse/kids?

Photo credit: Chelsea Rose

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