Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Greatest Find of My Life

They were looking for an old couch that was well broken in, and comfortable and most of all, cheap. They were college kids on a mission so they went to a thrift store and began to "try out" the different couches until they found one that they all could agree on and then proudly paid $20.00 for the piece and then took it home.
As they began to work on cleaning the couch, they discovered an envelope that had been carefully tucked within the upholstery of the couch cushions. The envelope contained cash!
That is when the bizarre part of the story began to take place. As they looked into the couch they began to discover envelope after envelope full of cash. The thrift store couch was literally stuffed with money!
Over $40,000.00 worth to be exact.
(I provided the link at the bottom of this post so that you can see more about what happened when they found out who the money belonged to)
Have you ever found something incredible that you did not ever intend to find? I mean, you went out looking for one particular thing but in your search you came across something insanely amazing?
Maybe you were shopping for something specific and found something entirely different?
Maybe you went to visit a particular person but ended up meeting someone else that changed the course of your day?
Maybe you were going to call somebody only to wind up seeing them in person and it made a bigger impact than a phone call or e-mail ever could?
You were let go from one job only to receive a better job? A financial setback turned out to be a financial blessing?
I want to share something with you that has helped me, in so many different ways, to see God's heart when I have trouble seeing His hand.
"I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded. Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Amminadib. Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee. What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies." ~ Song of Solomon 6:11-13
This is a beautiful part of the love story found within the Song of Solomon, and if Nicholas Sparks were to write this portion into a movie script, it would be a scene that would make the majority of the audience burst into emotional tears.
Look at the first part with me for a moment.

"I went down to the grove of walnut trees and out to the valley to see the new spring growth, to see whether the grapevines had budded or the pomegranates were in bloom."
Look at what she went into the valley to find. Walnuts, grapes and pomegranates. These speak of satisfaction. She went looking for something that would arouse her senses to bring satisfaction in her soul. It was only a thrift store couch in comparison to what she found.

"Before I realized it, my strong desires had taken me to the chariot of a noble man."
The desires that she had for satisfaction were met in the King. In verse number eleven, she did not go out looking for a noble man or a chariot. This is very captivating to me because EVERY desire that you and I have was given to us by God and can only truly be satisfied by The King!
We talked in the post ("Driven to Drink" Click Here) that God designed our ability to experience thirst?

In fact, every single thirst that we have was designed by God because every thirst that we have can only be satisfied BY God.

"As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?" ~Psalms 42:1-2

Jesus made a statement that really caught my attention.
"In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying , If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." ~ John 7:37
Did you notice what a person had to thirst for in order to come to Jesus? If any man thirsts for things that are good right?If any man thirsts for things that are noble, moral and good right? No.
Did you know that God designed our ability to experience thirst?

In fact, every single thirst that we have was designed by God because every thirst that we have can only be satisfied BY God.
So the question is in the middle your crisis, what are you thirsting for?
What is it that you are thirsting for today?

You can pursue any avenue you wish to try to gain this and many people do. It is a God implanted thirst, but it was planted with the only way to be satisfied being found IN Him. Our significance will only be found IN Him. If you are being driven to drink for significance, then rest assured the thirst is for Him and will be satisfied IN Him.


True intimacy is not found in a relationship with anyone other than Christ. We were created to be in fellowship with Him and once we take our thirst to Him we will find fulfillment.


There has to be a time when each of us come to Him as our strength and shield. He is able to take care of us tomorrow just as He has every day leading up to today.

"And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." ~John 6:35
I love the interaction between God and a very young King Solomon when Solomon was given the opportunity to ask God for anything that he wanted. His response to God's offer was amazing because it spoke of Solomon's very hearts desire.
"And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king:" ~ 2 Chronicles 1:11
In the Song of Solomon, this shepherd girl goes in search of something to satisfy her senses and her deepest desires were met in the person of the King.
If you desire security and seek after that with your hearts desire, what you will find is that the sources you sought it in will soon evaporate and you are left with just God. The very desire for these things in life can be what leads us to Him. The desire and search for significance and intimacy are the very much the same way.
People will abandon, hurt and betray you in your search to find these things in them as the source. What you are seeking without knowing it, is really only to be found in the King.
"Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart."
                                                                                                              ~ Psalms 37:4
Most Christians get this verse wrong.
We apply "desires of my heart" to a better this or a more expensive that. The job, car, house, family etc that we want in our mind, is not what it is that we truly desire.
We get hung up on the size and color and comfortability of the couch and pass by, completely oblivios to the contents the within the couch.
People wind up pursuing so many things that will ultimately fail them, and the failure is not a punishment from God but rather and invitation to find Him as the source that they have truly desired in that area that they struggled to fill.
What the girl in Song of Solomon six was saying is, "I went out looking to be satisfied, and my desire for satisfaction led me to the King. I became His companion in the closest sense of the word and I traveled with Him out of the very vineyard I entered in my desire. My desire led me into a place where I could find the source, and He, My true desire, took me out of that place and into His embrace.
Look at the response that was given by those who knew this girl the best, after she found the source.
"Return, return to us, O maid of Shulam.Come back, come back, that we may see you again."
People want to see genuine. They want to see real. A Christian who is genuine and real will always be attractive to a world that is cheap, and fake.

What you find in Him is everything that you never knew that you ever wanted.

 As I write this blog post, my heart can truly express what is shown in the picture just above this line. I went out looking for so many things and in my desire, I found myself in the vineyards and valleys that should have contained what I thought I was after. It was there that my desire led me past the rows of couches to the treasure! Christ IS Life!

What I found IN Him so far overshadows what it was that I thought that I wanted.

It was the lady that was taken in adultery that looked to the ground in shame after being caught in the very act, that saw someone purposely stoop to be in her line of sight. We all know that adultery is a sin and she was most certainly not standing proud during this "bust". Her head was lowered and she stared at the dirt in shame. Jesus  began to write in the dirt, I believe, to catch her eyes with the movement. Jesus knew the answer to the question that no one thought to ask that day.


Why does anyone commit adultery? Un-fulfillment. The act of the sin did not throw God into a "I cant believe you were capable of this" tirade, and neither did the reason that she committed the act. The reason she committed the adultry is why He came to earth in the first place.

He stoops down into her line of sight. He was saying in His action, "You did this because you do not have me". It was If any man thirst type of stuff going on here. Then He says, "Go and sin no more". He was not winking at sin, He was saying, "You have me and you no longer need to try to seek fulfillment in another person. Your desire for intimacy, security and significance has been found in me. Your desire led you to the source."

That makes me feel breathless to read that right now, because God is our source. We have the greatest find in our life when we discover Him!

If the "couch" you are trying to find comfort in is not working. The answer is not yet another couch. The answer is the treasure God has always been and He is found through desire. Ask Him to show you what you desire most to be shown to you IN Him today, and I promise you that life will never be the same!

Climbing with you,

* The story of the thrift store couch can be found (HERE)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

"How Going To The Bar Has Made Me A Better Man"


"I was tired." He said as we sat together. I had decided right after I had hung the phone up with him earlier that when we met, I would just listen. After a long and embarrassed pause, he sheepishly raised his head just enough to see if I was still in the room. Once we made eye contact he dropped his head again and began to continue the story behind a recent setback. "I had been working my tail off and things around me seemed to be falling apart. No matter what I did or how hard I tried, nothing seemed to change. I just decided to stop trying so hard. I found myself doing something that I never thought that I would ever do.
I went to the bar. I went to the bar and everything changed. Nothing in my life has ever been the same."

He was a friend and came to me because he wanted my advice on how to fix a problem that he admitted he had created.

Things had been rough and it seemed as though he had received no breaks at all. As I listened to the events that he described I began to wonder if I could have handled what he had been through. Deaths in the family, a crippling accident at work, losing his wife and finding out his child had been involved in selling prescription medication at school. This all happened within the space of a few months and as he talked on I found myself genuinely hurting for this man. Why would God let so many things happen to one of His children? Had he done something wrong and was Christian karma against him? These were some of the questions that he asked me and I told him what I am going to tell you now.


Sometimes it seems as though the weight that God places on us to lift is insanely impossible. It hurts, it stretches us and it can cause an immense amount of stress. The bar and the way that it is plated seems unfair and certainly, if we were really loved by God, loved would not look the way that it does. Have you ever felt that way?

Let me explain how God changed my life through my view of the bar.

In order to understand the purpose of the bar and the weights that are allowed to be plated on, we need to first understand something far more difficult to grasp.

Who we are to God.

If I just go through life with the generic phrase (that we don't fully understand) "I'm His child" without really seeing myself as God sees me, then I will forever struggle with the bar that I have been given because I will forever see the plates that are added as some sort of punishment doled out on me for being a bad child. God is seen as the parent who loves me but always has that hand cocked and ready to spank me when I mess up. I will find myself trying to live FOR His affirmation, His approval, His love and every other kind attribute of who He is. God cleansed me at salvation, but somehow it is up to me to keep myself clean and right is the average Christian mindset.

God did not create me to live FOR Him, but to live FROM Him. There is a HUGE difference between the two. I want to show you a very difficult passage to accept.

"I am the rose of Sharon, and the lily of the valleys." ~ Song of Solomon 2:1

I LOVE this passage because this is the bride of the King making a declarative statement.

The Song of Solomon is a beautiful book and it pictures our relationship with The King.

In the first chapter, she outlines why she does not deserve to be loved by the king, much in the same way that we are with God. She lays out all of her flaws and the King responds to her reasons with one overwhelming response. It is the same response that THE KING gives us when we list out why we don't deserve Him. The response is this, "I LOVE YOU."

The greatest day in our life will be the day that we choose to operate in the way that God truly sees us. Your identity is truly found in who God said you were when He did what He said that He was going to do.

Regardless of how you may FEEL about you, look at what His Word REVEALS about you!!!

"Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God." ~ Romans 5:1-2

I love this passage!!!!

In other words, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we now have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. If you are a child of God, you have been made right with Him! What can you ever do that can somehow overturn what was done for you on the cross? Miss church? Not tithe? Not go to a conference or a special service ? Work on a Sunday? The answer is NOTHING can undo what Christ did for you. Your rightness had nothing to do with you and EVERYTHING to do with Him!

It was because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

This knowledge allows us to confidently stand and proclaim that we are redeemed and loved and valued and more than conquerors!!!

But bad things happen and we feel forgotten about and overwhelmed because of them right? Read on!

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." ~Romans 5:3-5

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
When you learn to take the stress and pain that God places on the bar and lift that through Christ instead of walking away, drinking it away, or finding ways to cover it up, yes you will get stretched but you will get stronger!
About the beginning of 2013 I was getting some milk out of the refrigerator for my son. He made a honest well intended remark and kids make honest filter less remarks. Although he did not mean for it to hurt, it buried deep. "Daddy, you have an egg in your stomach."
I looked down and thought, "Wow... where did this come from?" That night I took an honest look in the mirror and I saw that I needed to make a change. I had no energy. I was just existing and physically unable to live the life that God created me to live with Him. I had no energy to be who He made me to be and do what He made me to do.
I was working in a place where demands were high and tolerance was short. It was a church. The mindset was in the absolute opposite of where I felt that God was taking me with Him. Acceptance was performance based and God was portrayed to be of the same mindset. He was painted as the "What have you done for me lately" type. I needed a change.
I slipped out of the house very early one morning while my family was asleep and I went to the bar.
I loaded it up with plates and I began to lift.  The more that I lifted the more it hurt and change seemed to take place very slow, but one day I looked in the mirror and noticed something had taken place. The egg was shrinking!
In fact as more plates went on the bar I could feel myself operating with strength. I was not tired like I used to be because I was changing. I said "No" to things that I used to say "Yes" to before and I began to see a person coming to light that was able to have strength and energy enough to perform what God was asking me to perform.
Change in your emotional and spiritual life is just like bodybuilding. Results are not instantaneous and success is 70% a frame of mind. Accepting who you are to God is not something that happens right away.
Fully getting that comes from properly lifting the weight  (Trials) that He places on the bar. You will get a proper understanding of who you are to Him if you want it, and before you know it, the weight on the bar reveals that change has truly taken place!

You will be able to look back at where you were in your understanding of Him months ago and see that definition has happened in that understanding. Your spiritual eyes will see clearer than they did before and you will know growth because you used to cringe at the plates God slid into place on the bar, but now you welcome them. They were never a punishment from a tempermental and angry dad, they are designed, through lifting with Him, to reveal what He made you to be. There will be things in your spirit that were not there before and you will discover that you are strong IN the Lord and in the power of His might because you have learned to lift the weight He gave FROM Him and not FOR Him!
This sculpture is AMAZING! It pictures what I am trying to say very well! It is accepting the tribulations in the full confidence that you are who He says you are to Him that allows you to seek His strength to lift.
Each rep shed away things, ideas, and feelings that God did not design you to carry. The things that used to define you outside of Jesus Christ and His resurrection fall away and they reveal you, who you really are. His masterpiece!
If you are oblivious to who you are to Him, then the reasoning behind the weights that are put on the bar will always be some judgement from God because you were not quite good enough this week. You let Him down in your level of commitment so of course He was going to bring hurt into your life right? WRONG! God's wrath was poured out upon Jesus and If you are saved, you will never face it!!! EVER!!!
He teaches and corrects out of love and always for your future.
Trials work work out of you what you need to remove so that He can be everything to you!
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

 When you can see God allowed trials in your life as His love in teaching you His strength in exchange for your own, you will know that true change has taken place!

 Looking back, you can see how He has changed your heart, mind, and emotional state from weakness to strength.

You are stronger now now because with each added plate and with each rep that was called for you were being taught that it was His strength that lifted.

The apostle Paul would have blogged it this way,

"For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day." 2 Timothy 1:12

 Based upon everything that God has helped me lift, I am fully convinced that through Him, I can lift anything else that He puts on the bar!
Truly, I can now say this but with a different meaning....

"I was tired. I had been working my tail off and things around me seemed to be falling apart. No matter what I did or how hard I tried, nothing seemed to change. I just decided to stop trying so hard. I found myself doing something that I never thought that I would ever do. I went to the bar. I went to the bar and everything changed. Nothing in my life has ever been the same."
Climbing with you,