A Small Detail: Noticing God

I love details of a story. It’s something I have always been fascinated with, and often find myself giving details that probably no one else but me seems to care about. With the exception of a couple of friends. One in particular shares such detailed stories that I often pray they’ll turn them into a book someday. I become just entranced by the way they lay out the scene, develop the story and provide such context for the person who wasn’t there.

In my daily life though?

Well I tend to get bogged down in the details. I find myself in the weeds of the minutiae day in and day out to the point where I get frustrated and frazzled. I miss moments and find myself becoming a person I am none too happy with by day’s end.

I wonder if Moses was having one of those days, out in the desert, doing his job tending a flock on the far side of the wilderness nonetheless. He’s probably thinking about the new lamb born, where he’ll need to set up for the night, wondering if there are far worse things than the wilderness with just a flock of sheep to keep him company.

Then it happens.

He spots a bush on fire. It’s on fire but not being consumed. I like to think here Moses and I are alike, he says out loud that he should go see this sight up close. Yeah, get closer to that fire that’s unexplainable. That’s such a me thing to do.

It’s not until God sees that Moses notices and turns towards it that He speaks.

This week a friend pointed this out in a devotional I was reading. This small detail has me enamored with Moses right now. Because it showed the very real presence of God noticing us. God showing up, showing up big, but waiting for Moses to turn towards His sign, His call before He speaks. He longs to be noticed by us. He delights in sharing His words with us, if we but turn towards His sight.

He promises He is with us, giving us Immanuel in the flesh, putting His spirit within us. Yet we miss Him too often because we aren’t noticing. We aren’t turning to look. This detail of our lives is so important y’all that I am just in awe of how He desires us to notice.

It’s a turning from our own self-talk, pride, regret, hurt, anger, busyness, worry, lust, infatuation to simply notice God calling to our lives. Not only that but when we turn to notice, He speaks. He speaks, to us! He gives us words as we approach Him, we approach that moment, that place. Removing our shoes because this is holy. It’s what He wants to have with us, each and every moment of the day. He wants us to not miss His call for our lives, His designation of goodness for us, specific and fulfilling.

Instead we get wrapped up in a to-do list, a time constraint, our calendars, our expectations of our lives, and our assumptions of others. We miss it because we don’t notice. Alot of things turn our heads and our attention spans these days, I pray that I would be of the noticing lot. The ones who look like Moses in this instance, where we meet God at holy ground, hearing Him speak, desiring to be a part of the unexplainable He enacts in lives. I pray that’s you too.

That we be noticers of God, hearers of His speaking, and worshippers on holy ground of His truth.

Book Review: 1 Peter Study

I took a different book to review this month, as I sought to broaden my depth in reviewing. I selected Jen Wilkin’s in-depth look at 1 Peter.

When I say her study is in depth, I mean this smaller book in the New Testament is a nine-week study. Each day you re-read the entire chapter and then focus in on specific verses, often just one or two over the course of five days. You have an additional wrap-up day, followed by a group discussion guide.

This study also has a video portion, however that was not part of the review. I did work through parts of the study as a supplement to my own devotional time and found it rather grueling work. To be honest I felt the pace of the study drug a bit too slow for my own preference. Wilkin is very thorough and Biblically sound in her teaching. She gives contextual insight and derivations of phrases, seeking to have you as the student dig into what you are studying.

Having done studies by other authors on books of the Bible I found this one to be biting off more than I wanted to chew, with such a detailed pace it was advancing. I don’t believe we should rush through the study of Scripture, but for my preference this isn’t one I would choose to lead or study moving forward.

If you are looking for an in-depth, Biblical foundation study this is an excellent choice by Wilkin as she provides such focused questions to get you to look at Scripture intently and intensely. She provides an overarching basis for you to carry into other studies of Scripture on your own. If you or your church are seeking to walk through 1 Peter together over the course of a semester, I would recommend this be the study of choice as Wilkin does a spectacular job of digging into the root of the Scripture.


The Bible study was provided to the reviewer in exchange for this review.

Contented with Milkshakes

Last Saturday I had my first ever Chick-Fil-A milkshake. What have I been doing with my life before this? Y’all have been holding out on me on this. As I inhaled that delightful concoction all too quickly, I began to think on contentment.

Gorgeous day, time spent doing a hobby I love, and a really good milkshake. I felt content.

As I am learning though, I realize contentment isn’t found in the things of life-circumstances and offerings of this world. While those things I was enjoying are in fact good, I can’t run back to those to provide me contentment day in and day out. They would ultimately provide me with obesity, diabetes and probably a jobless existence taking photos of flowers.

Looking around me this week I saw contentment being sought in so many things that hold no value or worth, things that are mere distractions from the godly contentment found in pursuing God’s will. Sadly I saw people resting their contentment in another human being and what they could give them (trust me I have been there and still work through that). I have to admit this week my contentment was lacking due to a busy workload-so here I am confessing that I was trusting in my job for contentment that it can never bring. Some choose alcohol, others choose food. Some seek out that contentment in their families or friends, which are good things but will let us down if we seek after just that for our contentment.

When we place things that this world offers (or tells us that we have to have) as necessities in our lives beyond what God provides, we usurp His will with our own pursuit of contentment, our own will. Don’t get me wrong here, we can still enjoy the things of this world. But when godliness and contentment depend upon our environment or circumstances, both will always be shaky, never finding stability.

Paul speaks to this as he addresses the Philippians in his letter to them. His contentment came from the acceptance of God’s will in his life and pursuing the desire to see God’s character reproduced in him. He wrote this from a perspective of having walked through so many seasons of life and change. He found that contentment never rested in his circumstances but in His will lived out in Paul’s life. Just a couple of verses later is a verse often quoted in relation to sports or hard times but I think it points back to contentment.

Walk with me here in this thought. I don’t think Paul was referencing doing just any old thing as long as Christ’s strength was in him. In context of these verses, it affirms Paul’s truth of faith, that contentment is accomplished in Christ’s strength, not in our own. In every situation, in every need The secret of contentment he alludes to is found in verse 13.

I can do all this through Christ who gives me strength.

Yet we wield that verse too many times to work in our own wills for our own definition of contentment rather than that which Christ can best work in us. We struggle and fight against circumstances that we just don’t like simply due to our selfish nature (preaching to myself here y’all) but when we stop, seeking His strength in the hungry moments, in the wanting moments, in the situations and circumstances, we find contentment lies within His will for us.

When I seek out the things which I believe will bring contentment to my life, I find they are fleeting and asked to be pursued over and over again. However when I live in His will, seeking His strength, contentment is lasting and real. It’s the acceptance that His will is good for my life.

So will I be content with fleeting moments of pursuit of my own will or accepting His will as good? Milkshakes pass away, but contentment in Him is eternal.

When You Need Tuesdays

Some days are just bad. Some days you just get overwhelmed, emotional and feeling as if it just won’t stop…I joyfully call those days Mondays. I don’t know what you all call them, but that’s my label for them.

Those Mondays where you find no matter how much you strive, how much you churn out or do in your own self, it just doesn’t get you far. It doesn’t amount to much and you look to find that you now have even more. A certain level of panic, anxiety and frustration sets in for me when that happens. It’s almost like I am being pulled by an undertow in the ocean and I am struggling to no avail.

You see though, that’s exactly it. I am the one struggling. I am the one fighting. I find it is so me-centered that I haven’t let much, if any, of God in. I haven’t sought Him out to be my Strength, my Comfort, my Help, my Healer. I want to make sure I get it done and then I get the glory. But I don’t get it done, and find my head a mess, my heart in turmoil and my frustrations pouring out of my mouth.

My recent prayer has been for God to make me aware of those times and my need for Him, not more of myself. To make my utter dependence on Him known to me, and that it is only in Him am I able to do anything. I had one of those Mondays but found myself doing the same old thing of relying upon self rather than trusting in Him. Throughout the day I kept spinning in my own tracks, never really making headway and seeing the mounting issues. As I reflected afterward I kept coming back to these verses below, and how I am thankful for a new morning. Something I have reflected on recently here.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22, 23

But I hadn’t focused on the consumed part. Because of His love, we aren’t consumed. I am here, present and moving forward. But it’s because of His love, for me, for you that the struggles of yesterday did not consume me, they don’t take over today. And while I am still working on the reliance of Him in the moment of Mondays (as there will be more) I know that through His love I am not consumed. I am not overtaken. Even in my failings and faults, when I strive in my own strength, He doesn’t fail.

So I greet a Tuesday with hope, love, and new mercies.

Deserving More Than

Last week I shared about how you are more than your title, more than your work. I believe that to be 100% true, and also it’s what God says about us that matters. I worry though that we often fall into a pit on the other side.

Where you think you deserve more than what your title says, or what God has given you in the now. Or maybe it’s just me that has had these thoughts over the years.

But I am guessing that’s not the case…

I look around me at what others have, examine my own giftings from God, and say “Excuse me, I believe wholeheartedly I can have what they do. This right here in my life? That’s great and all but I should get more. I should have more to my name. I have proven I am worthy of it, so why not give it to me?

Do we actually say this? Probably not. But we live it out with the words we say and the things we do in our lives towards God and His giftings. We look at friends or coworkers wondering why they have the thing which we believe we should have to, after all we have shown we are in Christ’s leading. Many call this coveting or fear of missing out.

When you dig into though I believe we have a worth complex. We do, we strive, we obtain to be called worthy. To prove our worth. Proving our worth though isn’t where efforts should be placed as children of God. Our worth is defined by God Himself, who calls us heirs with Christ. When Christ looks at the 12 as He prepares to send them, He speaks our worth out saying we are worth far more than sparrows. He values us, when we can do nothing for Him, to the point of giving up His life for us. Even in our attempts to prove our worth like Peter.

When I believe I desire more than what I am given, when my mind foolishly deceives me into thinking that I deserve more than I pray I remember the story of Korah in Numbers 16. You see Korah thought the same thing, as Moses and Aaron (called leaders by God for His people) gave the responsibilities to the tribes among them as appointed by God. Korah and his friends felt they deserved more than to serve in the tabernacle. They wanted holy priesthood in addition to those already appointed. They speak out against God, falsely lay claim of being led out of the Promised Land of Egypt to die in the wilderness and call their leader a deceiver. Korah and his team soon found themselves cast out by God in a pit that swallowed them up, literally by fire.

When we fall prey to the lies of deserving more than, we can find ourselves in this same pit. We become consumed with what God isn’t giving us but everyone else is getting. It pushes us farther from community, from Him and from any relationship we need.

But we have a God who redeems us. He gives as He sees fit that is for our good. Often I don’t want to trust in Him for that. I want to usurp Him and tell Him what is for the good of me. But He knows. When I forget that I truly deserve nothing but death, He is there to remind me that my worth lay in Him, not in titles, responsibilities, relationships or the lack of any thereof. That strivings and yammerings cease when I realize my value is defined by God who needs nothing from me but me. Just me. Not the stuff. When I live out what He has gifted me with in the right now, I grow closer to Him and appreciate Him more. I draw closer in to Him and not the pit of consuming worth.

Hoarding Memories

I love spring cleaning. Hi, yes, I am confessing that here in my safe space. I absolutely love the purge of  stuff. I don’t hang on to much, except this one box of stuff when I worked in baseball (shoebox size) and another small box of photos…they were these things you took with cameras and you couldn’t actually see the picture until you were done with a whole roll of film. You prayed just one came out well.

I love looking through those two boxes because they hold alot of memories and people who impacted me.

I am for the better because I purge though. I don’t like hanging on to stuff that is just clutter, that doesn’t bring value or meaning. While I enjoy clothes and shoes like a lady does, I wear out my clothes rather than leave ones with tags on them for months. Books and vinyl records I keep or accumulate if they bring to mind fondness or truth in the midst of alot of other noise.

hoarding-300

I was thinking on this recently, the things I hold close to me that bring smiles and joy, warmth to the heart as I talked with someone about the words we tell ourselves. We heard someone share the phrase “hoarding the wrong messages” and I could not believe just how true that statement was for me. I purge so much external but I hoard messages of lies and deceit, of hurt and anger, shame and regret. Most of this is aimed squarely at myself.

In realizing this, I find that I am not alone. The wrong messages I keep on repeat are of the wrong voice. The voice sounds alot like myself, very self focused and me-centered. It reminds me of the red flags I missed in a relationship. The faults I have, the shame of a lost job. The ways I fail and the regret I easily run to instead of the truth.

The truth of the matter is that there isn’t much truth being hoarded, only the self messaging. But truth is exactly what will throw the wrong messages out. The Truth found only in His Word, spoken throughout time and repeatedly to my heart. But when I hoard the wrong things, I don’t leave space for Him to get in. To breathe life, renewal, conviction and hope. 

But I choose to hoard the other messages. I choose to live into self through the wrong messages.

As I sat thinking on this, I thought about how I clean my closet. I follow the “Have I worn this in the last season?” But I don’t really apply that to my thoughts. I don’t look at them through the lens of “Is this truth I should be dwelling on?” It means I have to die to self even in my thoughts, every. single. day.

I can make that choice on so many actions but my thoughts? This is where I struggle so much. It is what leads to regret, shame, hurt, anger and deceit as we get self-focused and driven by ego/pride…driven by self. The work of our minds is the thing we are alone with the most, and as God dwells in us and the Holy Spirit fills us, we have to purge our minds of the messages we are hoarding.

I land here with Peter, nodding my head and seeking to purge the wrong messages of self and instead choose grace, the armor of God in the helmet of salvation, to use in adding truth in my thoughts.

With your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

My hope is no longer set in me, what I lack or what I accomplish, what my plans are or how I have failed. No, my mind is fully alert for Christ’s revelation. A mind shod with the helmet of salvation-grace extended in an unfathomable way- that is prepared for the battle ahead, in the day, with self, against the deception. A mind so trained on truth through the protection of faith that trust in the battle is forged fully in the hope of Christ.