torch bearer
bringing the light of Jesus to a dark world John 8:12

Learning the Heart of God

12/30/2009 02:28:00 PM

I may be the only parent who deals with this and if I am please don't tell me. I don't want to hear that I'm alone.

My kids step over things without picking them up. They leave things sitting on the table that don't belong there. And they say that they don't even see them.

What I want is for them to pick up the stuff, even if it isn't theirs. I want them to do the dishes without being told too. I want them to know that we do these things because we are Kelley's and that is what we do and who we are. I want them to know what my heart is and then do it without being told.

Part of it is the training that I have to give them since none of them were just born this way. As their father, I have to instruct them and let them know what I expect. I have to let them know what my heart is. Then the other portion of this equation is that they need to learn who I am, what I want and what I believe the Kelley family is about. They need to learn my heart.

The same is true in our being the Church. We are to know the heart of God and then act on it. As the perfect Father, His instruction to us has already been made known. He has already made known to us His heart, His desires and His plans. And, we are to be the kids who study the heart of the Father, get to know Him, then, without having to ask or be told, do what is in front of us.

Just as my kids love to receive my blessing (praise, free time, money) we love the blessing of the Father. However, we are not to be seeking the blessing, but rather seek the heart of the Blessing Giver. The blessings are just extra. If my kid's desire is to only have free time and therefore do what I ask, that is not the right motive and they won't receive my blessing. But if they do what is right because it is right, then the blessing comes.

Is our desire the blessing of God or the heart of God? Are we doing what is right because we want the goodies, or are we doing what is right simply because it is right?

For my kids to get to know and understand my heart more, they need to study me, get to know me and spend time with me. Then they need to act on what they see, learn and experience. They have to act on that revealed truth.

God has given us such great ways of getting to know and understand His heart better. We have His written word, the great spoken word of God and opportunities to talk to Him.

I challenge you this next year; get to know the heart of God. Read the Bible, go be a part of the church on a regular basis and spend lots of time talking to Him. Act on the revealed truth.

I have been challenged with this myself. At least for the month of January, I will be reading through the entire Bible. I don't know if I will do it for more months than just the one or not. God has laid on my heart that if I want to do what is right because it is right, then I need to know His heart more. So, I'm gonna read up on Him. See what He has to say and be radically changed by it. If you want to join me in this endeavor, that would be great. (Let me know if you decide to do this and I can tell you how I mapped it out.) Whether you do or not, I would encourage you to…

Learn His heart. Understand His heart. Then do what is right because it is right.

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A Glimpse of His Heart

12/28/2009 11:37:00 PM

As I sat holding my devastated 11 year old daughter on my lap in the middle of the floor, I had a glimpse at the Father's heart.

It started at a basketball game only a few hours earlier. We got word that my oldest was making choices that went against our family standards. Choices that will cost him dearly if there is no change. Choices that have been made by him in the past, and have been dealt with by us as parents. Choices that separate him from me as his father. Not because I love him less, but because when he makes those choices we can't have a close relationship.

My frustration with him did not come so much from what he did as it was related to how he broke my heart through our loss of relationship. I got angry, I cried because it hurt me, I tried to explain once again what the ultimate outcome of these choices would do to him and I was silent because I didn't know what to say. Not that all of these were godly reactions by any means.

As we were in the middle of this, my daughter's cat that she has had for 8 years, walked out into the living room and laid down and died right in front of us. As my Babydoll was crying and asking for God to not let her Colorful die, all I could do was hold her and cry with her.

At this point, God opened my eyes. He gave me a glimpse of His heart. The frustration and hurt He experiences every time I decide to walk away from His perfect standard, as well as the times He just holds me and lets me cry in my hurt. My heart broke. In the center of my time of being dad, I saw in such a small way the Father's heart for me. His fierce righteousness as well as His tender mercies. How terrific my situation felt, but how small it was in comparison.

Even in comparison to how His heart felt toward His own Son. The perfect Lamb of God…beaten, crushed, abused, rejected and killed. The pain the Father must have felt as He watched this happen. The heaviness of the Father's heart as the sins of the world were cast upon His perfect Son. The fact that God had to turn His face because He couldn't look on that sin. How must His heart have felt that day? How must His heart feel toward us from time to time?

My prayer has become one of repentance, change and thanksgiving since that time. Repentance for the hurt that I cause His heart. Repentance for the ways my reactions as a father aren't godly. Change because that is what happens with repentance. As I experienced the heaviness of a father's heart, I don't want to be the cause of that in His heart. Thanksgiving for a God who has continually held me in my time of need. Who, without judgment or even word, has been with me through my sufferings.

I caught a glimpse of the Father's heart that night and because of that, I will never be the same. Have you caught a glimpse of His heart? What have you done with that experience?

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Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity

12/22/2009 02:23:00 PM

I have always wondered what would happen if a professional basketball team just went back to the basics. If they paired up against another talented team, but instead of all the show and glitter that you see now, they just played it straight by the fundamentals. I really believe that that team would surprise and astonish the other team so much that it would be a landslide. The fundamental team would walk away with a victory.

In short, I believe that is what Mark Batterson is saying throughout his new book Primal: A Quest for the Lost Soul of Christianity. He is taking us back to our roots, back to what matters most, back to what will help us win the game. He takes us back to the basis of who we are to be and what we are to do as Christians. We are to love the LORD our God with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind and all our strength (Mark 12:30).

As he breaks down this verse bit by bit, I continued to see the importance of stripping off everything I have learned, and re-explore what my faith is founded on. One of the hardest things in my Christian walk has been the fact of growing up in church. Not that I would trade that for anything, but it has been hard to strip off the stuff that I have learned that has truly covered up the fundamental relationship I am to have with my God.

All throughout his book, Mark continually draws from scripture, thoughts from people throughout history as well as insightful stories from his own life. The use of these means to help draw a conclusion is not new, but the fresh thinking that Mark puts to these means certainly is. His continual re-thinking thinking, his desire to understand ways of doing church that have never been thought of, his pursuit of a real, personal and working relationship with God (not just one of static) and his way of seeing scripture in a much deeper multi-faceted way is felt on each page.

If your desire is to come back to the basics of living in a new and active relationship with God, this has got to be the book you start 2010 with! I believe it is time for us to strip off the layers of stuff that we have piled up on our life with Him, come back to the fundamentals of the game, and truly love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. I believe that Primal is the book to help us do that.

Order a book today at www.randomhouse.com. You will be glad you did.

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Oh, Little Town of Northport

12/21/2009 11:05:00 AM

It amazed me on Saturday night, the talent that was displayed. We had our first Christmas Music Extravaganza led by our Worship Pastor, Angie. There was a huge array of styles of music, ages of musicians and singers and yet no lack in talent. She had the vision to pull off a "White Christmas" or "Holiday Inn" kind of evening. Let's just say that old Bing had nothing better than what I saw Saturday.

What I really took away from that night is the fact that just because we are a small church in a small town in an ungodly state doesn't mean that is what has to dictate us. The talent that was experienced on Saturday could easily have come from professionals in a much bigger venue.

Don't let your location, size, age or assumed talent level dictate or limit what you do for God. Just like Paul told Timothy, "Don't let them look down on you because you are young." Then he goes on to say (in my own words) "Just wow them with what the Holy Spirit has blessed you with."

Well, I was wowed and I was challenged to not be limited for what I do for Jesus' sake.

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…and she began to serve them

12/15/2009 10:21:00 AM

Now Simon's mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him (Jesus) about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. Mark 1:30, 31

Jesus has such compassion on this woman. He doesn't ask about her past or what she had been doing to become ill, he just reached out, lifted her up and healed her. What love!

Have you ever had that? Maybe it was a miraculous physical healing that Jesus did so that he would be glorified. For me it was lifting me out of the pit of mud that I had spiritually sunk into. Ok, I made my own choices to get there, but Jesus didn't ask, he just saved me. How grateful I am!

All of that is good, but did we catch the last part of those verses… "and she began to serve them." How crazy! She didn't sit and rest, she just got up and served. I don't know for sure, but I think she was probably so overcome with gratitude that she just couldn't help herself. She was grateful for a wonderful son-in-law that cared for her enough to mention her to Jesus, and she was grateful enough to a Savior that would heal her…no questions asked. What a woman!

When we were healed or rescued by our Savior, what was our first response? "Well, I have to rest awhile. You know, it has been a long time of sickness and I'm still kinda weak." When all along, our response needs to be like hers… "Jesus, I'm not even gonna ask if I can serve you, I'm just gonna do it because I know it's the right thing to do."

This Christmas season, we need to do something different. Recognize that we have been healed and/or rescued and then "begin to serve them." Find someone to have over for dinner and just bless them with the night of their life. Send a card or email to someone that you have been thinking of. Donate to a food bank or charity. Do extra chores around the house without drawing attention to it. Donate some time at your church. Plan for a missions trip this summer. Go tell someone about your being rescued!

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Peering through a curtain

12/11/2009 10:20:00 AM

Watched the cat today do something that I do way too often. The cat jumped up on the back of the couch and wiggled its head around on the curtain until it was able to move the curtain and peek outside. I don't know what it was looking at, but I'm assuming it was dreaming of freedom.

No, I don't jump on the couch to look out the window, but what I do is just peek through another curtain and not go experience what I see on the other side.

When Jesus died, the giant curtain in the temple, separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple, was torn in half. This curtain was to keep the common folk out from where the presence of God rested. When Jesus died separation was destroyed. We were given free access to the presence of God.

Too often I just sit on the outside looking in. Wondering what it would be like to be there. Well, all I have to do is go! The Bible says that we can come confidently into the throne room of God. We don't have to sit on the outside just peering through the curtain. We can go to where God is!

Well, I'm done looking…I'm going! Wanna come with me?

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Attitude Change

12/10/2009 08:50:00 PM

Our attitude is directly affected by our latitude. I came to realize this after my trips to Kenya and India this year. I have come to realize this in moving to Northport.

My attitude has been changed drastically after my latitude changed. Things just don't bother me the way they used to. So what that Wal-Mart doesn't have that certain Christmas present on sale anymore, when so many go without just the basics of life. So what that the Starbucks girl didn't make the coffee the right way, when entire villages don't have safe drinking water. So what that I'm a little hungry, when 25,000 people die every day from starvation. But big deal that people are dying without Jesus around me. Big deal that my selfishness has gotten in the way of my loving others the way I should. Once my latitude changed for a while, my attitude couldn't stay the same.

Too often we miss so much in this life because we haven't moved. Our attitude can become stinky because we haven't changed our latitude for too long.

The apostle Paul said that he knew what contentment was. It was his trust in Jesus, yes, but I also believe that he knew what contentment was because his latitude changed. His first change of latitude came on the road to Damascus. He fell to his knees before Jesus. That is the first latitude change we must experience as well, falling on our knees in recognition of who Jesus is. Second, Paul didn't sit still. He got out of his comfort zone and saw how the other half lived. He started locally and then went from there. That is what we must do as well. Go down the street. Go across town. Go to a neighboring town. Go somewhere. And as you go, pray to see through Jesus' eyes.

You won't need to ask to have your attitude changed, it just happens as you change your latitude.

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Asotin, WA, United States
Follower of Jesus, husband, dad, and called to be His torch bearer to the world.
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