Friday, November 26, 2010


I have been at the “bottom of my lap top” since August, doggedly hacking away at the keys to birth these words I have been pregnant with for years. Really I have been at the bottom of my heart. The deep called to deep and I have labored to push it out. Wanting it to be beautiful but also knowing it has to be real. It has to be real or my readers know it’s white washed and refuse to allow it to call to their deep. The depths of their hearts are longing for something raw. They live in the ugly, messy world and long to be rescued into beauty… refusing to see the beauty that is their scattered, unorganized life.

I have never really liked asymmetry. I am a symmetry-craving person. Balance. Not even the slightest imperfection on one side of the painting or the other… that’s what I crave.

My kids used to “butcher” art projects. We would string up beads and my son would just start putting them on randomly. I slow the kids down and carefully explain how to make a pattern with the beads. The boys would never heed my instructions. I let it go… not wanting to crush their pioneer spirits. But I would despise their art projects. I would secretly plot how to get rid of them after the kids had forgotten them.

Why do I do that? Why is it so important to me that what is around me is balanced… symmetrical… perfect? Who is “perfect” anyway? And why do I crave it so? When did symmetry and beauty become synonymous?

I thought about this when I was at a jewelry party once. So much of the costume jewelry that is popular now is well... messy looking. A tangle of beads… a lopsided pendant… a curvy line on one side and a square block on the other… Mixed up, tangled up, messy pile of worthless metal and plastic. Nothing symmetrical… Not an ounce of precious metal… just junk.

I examine my heart.

These women around me are delighted. Their eyes sparkle and shine like the shiny beads under lamp light. They want a little beauty in their harried, messy life.

Is this the truth I have so desperately needed? Life is not symmetrical. We walk this path with very little to balance us out… certainly without perfection. Even if we get our house to be spotless, the next day there will be disorder. Even if we walk through most of our life close to the Lord’s side, we invariably will go through a season of spiritual drought.

Is life just a mixed up, tangled up, messy pile of worthless junk? Is there no beauty there?

Maybe our worth is just a matter of perspective. Maybe beauty is in how we perceive it. When we are scrubbing soap scum to reveal the beauty in the bathroom, we do not feel poetic and inspired. When we are exchanging harsh words and slamming doors, we do not see any jewel to be gleaned there.

But maybe life IS just a tangled messy, pile of seemingly worthless junk. All we see is plastic and steel but there is ONE who values it as diamonds and gold. We see the things that are RARE as the most precious but maybe the things that are common place have the most beauty of all.

Crumbs on the floor after the family gathered together to share food and hearts

Ten pairs of muddy shoes by the back door

Half empty bottles of paint and one ruined shirt-

A lopsided window to the heart of an eight year old boy

Worn wooden planks of a floor who has seen miles of sojourners here

The smudged wall around the light switch

The plant that remembers a loved one gone glory

No forks in the silverware drawer

Maybe this tangled messy life IS beautiful. We cannot see it because we are so close to it. We cannot place the true value on things because we don’t have the right. Only God can do that. Maybe God doesn’t want life to be symmetrical. Maybe his plan is a little imbalanced.

I mean look at the cross… There is a tragic imbalance there. ONE man taking on the sins of the entire WORLD… Maybe God’s economy is asymmetrical.

I remember critiquing a pendant once with my son. I commented that I didn’t like things that are asymmetrical and at first he agreed with me (he so longs to please me) and then he said he didn’t know. Although the pendant was not symmetrical it did seem to be balanced. After some reflection I did agree with him…

We are all on a journey and maybe we will not ever be able to see the balance until we are at the end of the road. God sees our beginning and our end… he knows what the master piece looks like from afar. As my life becomes entangled with the beads of other’s lives… as I lose a couple of pieces off the edge of the table (never to recover them)… as a chunky jewel or wide gap weaves its way into my life: I am trying to stop looking for symmetry.

Life is asymmetrical. Life is messy and not uniform and… beautiful.

We paint our lopsided houses and plant our flowers in crooked rows.

We mow one half of the yard and let the other side grow

We wipe little noses and cry a river of tears

We go to the altar and lay down our fears

We hide in the corner and set out on the trail

We climb to the summit and hold tight to the rail

We push and we pull and break the mold

We step out in faith and try to be bold

We say the truths the world will not hear

We set our jaw and choke back our fears

We grab hold of dirty hands

We till up miles of tainted land

We plant our seeds where cities grow

Hoping to see little lights glow

Into a forest fire of faith

What we do is never safe

It is NOT easy, nor is it fun

We trod the race we are to run

We believe there is value there

Lurking somewhere beneath the stair

We call and coax it in to the light

We ask you to surrender night

Exchange your ashes for what is right

Take your rightful place, my dear

To destination we draw near

Pearls that once were grain of sand

Now have beauty in eyes of man

The world sees us and agrees

From blinded eyes we have been freed

Monday, November 22, 2010

Her Eyes Said Everything

I worshiped with my kids tonight. It’s not really something new. We make a point to have our family sit together in church, but tonight we experienced something a little different. My daughter is fifteen and one of the areas we connect the most is music. We like the same music. I love… absolutely love having teenagers because they introduce things in my life that I might not otherwise discover. My teens show me new music all the time… awesome music. Tonight we went to a Barlow girl concert together.

At first it was supposed to be just me and my daughter but I didn’t see why the teen boys shouldn’t come. Frankly I was surprised the boys wanted to come. Barlow Girl is very… uh… girly. But they did want to come and so we headed out for the concert.

I love my teenagers. Did I already mention that? They are so… goofy and raw and real. They say what is on their minds and many times what is on their hearts. Ya know, the older my children get the more I enjoy them. I love to hear about their journey to discover who they are. They go so boldly. They don’t hold back.

Not like us… Adults have something holding them back: responsibility. We are too busy being grown up to go on a journey of the heart. We have buried our hearts deep and it’s too painful to dig them up. I don’t like being a grown-up.

So we bought our tickets and poured into the building. I could feel the anticipation build. We found a pew as close to the front as we could and settled in. My baby girl leaned on my shoulder. It was like her excitement was so great, that she had to hold onto something before it blew her away. Here we were expecting something awesome. Not the people that were going to be playing music but somehow expecting God to show up… to show up in the way he does when we listened to the music at home… in our quiet place.

But this time we were not alone in our quiet place… this time we were standing with others to raise our voices high. There is something to be said for corporate worship. I can’t even put into words what happens there but this I know: I want to experience this WITH the people I love. I want to experience this with my teens.

Then something happened. A friend came in and wanted her teen girl to sit on the row with the other teenagers and could I please sit in the row behind them. And I moved. Because that is what adults do… we are responsible. I could feel my heart retreating… going deeper in.

We listened to the opening band and I tried desperately to block out my disappointment and surrender to worship but every now and again my daughter would glace over her shoulder at me. She was disappointed too.

During intermission I took my chance when some kids went to the bathroom. They were pews… we could squeeze. I took my place between my kids and ordered the other teens to scoot down. I didn’t care if it was a tight fit I had a responsibility… to my heart.

Before I know it my kids will be packing up and loading their cars and heading off into the world. I will not sit next to them in church anymore. I won’t be driving them to concerts. They will show the new music to their friends… not me. They will sit up late on the couch and pour their heart out to someone else. They will spread their wings and go into the world.

This time is precious.

I feel like I am watching my babies take their first steps. Every time they tell me a new discovery or a new revelation, I know they go further and further away. I will no longer show them the world, they will discover it for themselves.

I didn’t get to stay sandwiched between my teens the whole concert. That was OK. My daughter was one down and she was close enough to lean in and whisper what she thought the next song was. It was kind of neat that it was too loud to hear what she was saying most of the time.

Because her eyes said everything.

The memory struck me all at once. The first time I really connected with those eyes. All the old nurses and parenting books said so. The eye contact was the most important thing. “When you’re feeding your baby make a point to look into her eyes… that’s when you bond,” it said.

Hours upon hours I looked at those big brown eyes. She suckled and I drank in those beautiful eyes. I can see them as clear as if it were right in from of me: tiny pink hands… miniature nose and big saucer eyes.

This time she looked at me, but I was not feeding her… (not milk anyway.) This was food for the soul. This was the time for her to come to the water and drink for herself. And I am just privileged to witness the event. I feel no more responsible for her spiritual journey than I do for bringing her into the world. I just stand in awe that the one who created her knew exactly what she needed. I get to stand back and watch.

I surrendered myself to worship and the message that came from the Word. I allowed it to just wash over me.

There were other awesome things that happened. I got to speak some awesome words over my boys. I got to pray over some girls who needed to know their value. I got to speak the truth… but nothing compared to the opportunity to be a spectator to see my own children press toward the Lord… to see the light gleaming in my daughter’s eyes and to see my boys’ backs straighten when they were told they are made for greatness and called to do amazing things.

They have their whole lives in front of them. The ARE called to do great things. To take on the world boldly. To embark on their journey without fear. I want to be fearless like them. I want my children to hold onto their dreams and be inspired to do greater things than they ever imagined... to grasp life firmly and never let go.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Broken Part 3 Glory Hidden, Glory Restored

If we can allow the Lord to circumcise or reunite our hearts, our heart can begin to operate as it was designed to. When the foreskin is removed (by Christ) the glory of God is revealed. We are not merely sinners born broken, we were created in God’s image. The design of our physical body reveals the glory of God in which we were created. The design of our spiritual heart, our soul ALSO reveals the glory in which we were created.

Even the lost crave justice and truth. It may be a perverted sense of justice. The lost may seek the truth in the wrong places, but at their core they desire the LORD. They desire to find the truth. We can even see mercy in unbelievers who are driven to do charitable things.

I see the lost everywhere who feel empty and incomplete. They seek that truth out in so many ways. Deep in their heart they know what is right and what is wrong. This is the part of their heart that desires to be reunited with their God… the part of their heart that knew God at the beginning of time. The veil of sin perverts the truth and justice and mercy that their hearts desire.

I love what John Eldredge says in Waking the Dead about the glory hidden in our hearts:

Your story does not begin with sin. It begins with glory bestowed upon you by God. It does not start in Genesis 3, it starts in Genesis 1.

That very idea blew me away! I never thought about that before. Why is it that teachers focus on sin nature and yet fail to remind us that our ORIGINAL nature was created to reflect the glory of God? Why do we do that? Why do we default to thinking our story begins with the fall of man, when the creation story is our true beginning?

I believe teachers teach this incomplete doctrine out of a pure desire to reach those who are not broken over their sin. Yet for years I believed that I was hopelessly broken and there was nothing redeemable in me. Why save me? What good would that do, if I am just a bundle of wickedness?

I like to imagine the world before sin came into it. Sometimes my family sits around the living room and discusses this. We ask questions like, “Do you think mosquitoes and fleas came after the fall of man?” or “Why do you think man lived longer in that day? Was it because of the ‘canopy’ or because he was the ‘original design’?” Sometimes we talk about “the curse” on man and woman and the differences between them. We talk about animals and their role in man’s life.

I also like to point out that God made man special for a reason. The bible says that God was pleased with all the things he created but he did not state that it was “very good” until he created man. God even went out of his way to make woman so that man would not be alone.

Can you imagine what it would be like to walk in the garden with God? I mean, Moses got to walk in the presences of the glory of God and yet even he could not look directly at God. The very first man got to walk with God and because (at the time) man was perfect, it was the most natural thing.

What a tragedy to be separated form that original perfection! What a glorious plan God has for us. Don’t you think man was thinking: it’s just not ever going to be “right” again? Well, God had in mind all along, to make it “right” again, to be reconciled to his most beloved creation.

Colossians 1:21-22 says Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. (22) But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—

When you think of the wondrous provision of Christ for our reconciliation, do you know that we are restored to the original state of being “holy and without blemish?” We are then like the very first man and woman, able to walk and talk with God face to face. Our hearts are made whole, they are no longer divided. Yes there is a process of being perfected and washed but the provision enters our life the moment we accept Christ. We only have to walk in it.

You should know that all of this chapter I have struggled with these concepts and I have bounced my perspective off my husband. I have a hard time believing there is ANYTHING good in my heart and yet I have had the Holy Spirit whispering to me for a long time. My husband pointed out to me one day that just the word “reconciled” indicates that there was an original state that we are being restored to. That miraculous restoration has nothing to do with our own glory it only has to do with the glory of the one in whose image we were created.

Did you know it says in Genesis 1 God decided to make man in his image? I think that is why God has such a problem with people worshiping the likeness of a created being, a movie stars or famous people. God knows that these things bear his likeness and we should be worshiping the One who created the likeness, not the likeness itself.

Imagine how much more offended God was when his children decided to worship the image of one of the lesser creations, the creation that was not even made in His image. What a slap in the face!

Psalms 106:120 says: At Horeb they made a calf and worshiped an idol cast from metal. They exchanged their Glory for an image of a bull, which eats grass.

The children of Israel traded in the beauty in which they were created and the glory in which they were brought up out of slavery for a cow. God sees, yet again, that what floats to the top, what comes out of a man’s heart is (in my opinion) pure folly. These people should have been on the high of their life! God did so many miraculous things for them and yet they wanted to worship something else. They forgot that they were walking around bearing the resemblance of the Holy One. They forgot that they were the ones in creation that were given the privilege of looking like their creator.

I think this is the reason so many other people are stuck in sin. They forget that they were created for glory! We were not created to wallow around and bow down to created things. We were meant to walk in truth and to do great things.

We must fix our eyes on Jesus and what he created us for. We should desire to do great things and impact the world for him. We cannot make an impact with our head hung low. We should shine our light on others. Bearing the image of God and having his spirit in our heart comes with some responsibility.

1 Peter 5:10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.

God promises to restore us. See here: we have been CALLED to glory. We are restored. Our hearts are reunited. The work is not something we do ourselves, it has been done for us. We don’t have to be a slave to sin because God’s plan was that those who are in Christ will once again walk in the glory we once walked in the Garden of Eden.

Isaiah 43:6-7 I will say to the north, 'Give them up!' and to the south, 'Do not hold them back.' Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth— (7) everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made."

I feel the urgency described in this verse. I say to the earth give back to the Lord those who have been bound up in shame. You were called by name. God wants you to remember that you were created to reflect his glory. It is not a glory of your own. It is a reflection of the glory of the one in whose image you were created! The power of sin nature has no hold over those who have come to Christ. Forget that you were broken! Remember that you were created for glory!

I don’t think that being made in God’s image is simply a physical resemblance. I believe that we have, inside of us, the character of God in our hearts. Being made in God’s image, we have justice and mercy in our hearts but the tragedy of sin created a veil over that heart. The great division in our hearts served to separate us from the truth.

Read 2 Corithians 3:4-17

I love the way this passage begins with confidence because for so long I did not have confidence that there was anything worth-while in me. I was like the people in verse 1. I wanted someone to give me a “letter of recommendation” to go into ministry. But ultimately my competence is not from any glory I myself have but in my competence is from God.

The rest of this passage may seem a little cryptic to you since the “ministry that brought death” is referring to the law of Moses, in which we have already stated that the purpose of that law was to make us conscious of sin, and “ministry of the Spirit” is referring to the saving grace we received from Christ. This passage is explaining that if the law that made us aware of sin was glorious then the grace of Christ should be even more glorious! But yet we cling to the condemnation of the law (the identity of being broken) and reject the glory of the ministry that sets us free from condemnation!

I love the way the Word gives us yet another illustration of our natural condition. In this passage we are described as having a veil. Sin is like that foreskin, like a veil over our hearts. Shame seeks to keep us veiled and we retreat into dark corners to allow the enemy to beat us with lies. Christ came to remove the veil. “Since we have such a hope, we are very bold.” Is it bold to say that I have a justice and mercy and goodness and glory in my heart? Yes it is! This verse clearly says that whenever anyone turns to the Lord the veil is taken away.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (18) And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

When the veil of sin is removed we are able to fully reflect the glory in which we were created to reflect. Not so that we can take any glory for ourselves but so we can bring glory to God through our lives. I like how the author here describes “with ever increasing glory.” That means that the more we are washed… the more the veil is removed the more the glory hidden in our hearts is revealed, the more we begin to love like our Daddy, the one who created us.

We reflect the Lord’s glory while we are being transformed. Some times we think: “Yes I will reflect God’s glory, after I am transformed.” We are not going to be fully transformed until heaven! So we have to reflect his glory now. The fact that we are submitting to the transformation process is glorious. Is that not why we rejoice loudly when we hear of another person receiving Christ? All that they have done at that point is understood that they were a sinner and acknowledged their need for a savior.

We have to be washed continually in the Word. When we do so, we are transformed and the more we are transformed the more glorious the story becomes. The more reflect the image of God. The mirror is cleaned.

There is a challenge to being a bible teacher, a teacher of the law, if you will. The bible is meant to be seen as a whole and since the Well is Deep we must rely on the Holy Spirit to reveal things to us in Scripture. I believe that it is very easy for us to misinterpret things in scripture and instead of freeing people from their burdens we end up creating burdens. Jesus warned us against doing what this kind of teacher does.

Matthew 23:4 says: They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.

There are some teachers that rather than freeing people, serve to place heavy loads on men’s shoulders. I know that the intention is good but the result is often damaging and creates a spirit of condemnation in the lives of believers. When I seek to help free people from the burden of sin in their life I have to ask myself if this is a truth that will set them free.

Here is the truth: “where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!”

In John 17:22-23, Jesus says: I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: (23) I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

Christ did not die on the cross for us to retain the identity of “sinner” or “broken.” He set our hearts free from sin. Right here Jesus says that he has given us his glory… the glory that God gave him… He has lifted the veil of sin off of our hearts so that we can shine with His glory the glory that we were created to reflect. He desires for us to be bold and stand with unveiled faces before the world and allow our light to shine before men, with ever increasing glory.

Broken Part 2: Reunited Heart

Does the fact that we are born into sin mean that there is no good thing in us? I believe that the foundation for this idea is rooted in a verse from Romans being taken out of context. Paul writes, “I know that nothing good lives in me…” But, alas, in the very the context of this verse there is a truth that combats the idea that Christians should retain the identity of “broken.”

Romans 7:17-18 says: As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. (18) I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature….

Paul makes a point to distinguish, “that is, in my sinful nature,” in his flesh. He is saying that nothing good lives in his sinful nature, not nothing in him. Further study of Romans 7 and 8 reveals that he makes a distinction between what he desires to do in his heart, what his true self, his true identity wants to do and what his flesh wants to do.

Romans 7:20-22 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (21) So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. (22) For in my inner being I delight in God's law;

Paul makes a point to repeat the battle raging in his body over and over in this passage. He describes the conflict of a man who is divided between what his flesh craves and what his heart, his true self, his inner being delights in. In his inner being he loves truth and justice but his flesh wins the fight, most of the time.

Even in light of the true purpose of these verses, I still had a conflict within me. There are verses buzzing at the back of my brain that says the heart is deceitful… wicked. “OK, so what is it, Lord?” I ask. Is the heart (our true self) good or is it bad and wicked?

I could not get clear understanding around this until I began to notice the frequency of seemingly contradictory references to the heart, in the bible. I have been very frustrated over these perceived contradictions, to the point that I began to do research of the word “heart.” There are over 740 references to the word “heart” or “hearts” in the bible.

In this process, I very neatly wrote the word “evil” at the top of one page and “good” at the top of another. I wanted to categorize verses that referred to the heart being evil or being good. I wanted to see the origin of the words used there. But I had a problem… there was a wealth of verses that didn’t fit into either one of those categories and the “ah-ha!” moment came when I ran across the word: “double-hearted.”

Interestingly enough, this verse was difficult to pin down because it is used in the KJV. It says “with a double heart they speak.” But in the NIV it says, “…their lips speak deception.” (Psalm 12:2) The word “double-hearted” in the Hebrew is actually labe labe (meaning heart.) The verse would be more literally translated, “with a heart heart they speak.” Yet somehow the translators of the NIV took “heart heart” or “double-hearted” and translated it: “deception.”

What an amazing understanding fills me when looking at these versions side by side. When our heart is deceitful we are in the state of being double-hearted! There are two hearts at work in my body, one that desires to do good and the other that is drawn to the most wretched things of this world.

Then the wealth of seemingly contradictory verses starts to make a little more sense. One verse refers to the wicked heart (Duet. 15:9) and another refers to the integrity of the heart (Gen 20:5.) It is a little easier to understand that my system would be somewhat conflicted if there are two driving forces that want to control me. Still this term “double hearted” is a little awkward. I have hard time envisioning two hearts in me because I actually only have one physical heart.

Another verse in which the heart is described as being deceitful in the NIV, the KJV describes the heart as being “divided.” (Hosea 10:2) Now it is starting to make even more sense to me. I can clearly envision that there is a certain part of my heart that is devoted to wickedness. Regardless of what my true self desires to do, I am drawn to evil.

The concept of the divided heart really hits home when reading verses that are very familiar to me and are repeated over and over again in the bible. I wish I had the attention span to sit and count just how many verses implore us to do things with ALL of our heart.

Deuteronomy 4:29 says But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Deuteronomy 6:5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

Why would the Lord implore us to seek him, love him… look for him with ALL our heart unless our heart was divided? If our heart was all good we would naturally follow God, right? If our heart was all bad, then what is it that would cause us to turn to him?

Even in the verses that refer to the evil in man’s heart describes evil as the “inclination of the thoughts of his heart” (Gen 5:5) or the “imagination of the man’s heart” (Gen 8:21) and not the actual heart. It is describing that evil as what tends to come out of a man’s heart or the inclination of the thoughts of the heart. This is precisely what I believe it is talking about in Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 17:5, 9 say: This is what the LORD says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD. (9) The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

I believe Jeremiah is saying that, in our divided heart, the thing that floats to the top, “above all things” is wickedness. The thought that comes out of our heart is evil. Notice in this passage that it says our hearts “turn away from the LORD.” Does that not indicate that our heart is initially with the Lord? I believe that in the broken order of the fall of man, without a savior, our divided heart is only going to desire evil if we do not find the cure. It is inevitable that the wickedness in our heart will win in a battle of will. I also believe that there is a good part of our heart that desperately wants truth and justice and wants to rid the heart of evil. The heart, at the core, is good.

I think the reason this verse refers to our divided hearts as incurable is found in the synonym for the root word translated “deceitful” also means “polluted.” Our hearts in which the glory of God was deposited have been “polluted” with wickedness. That is why at the end of the day, when operating out of our flesh, what will come out of our natural heart is going to be contaminated.

If I gave you a glass of water poisoned with cyanide, it would not matter how much pure water I poured into that glass, you still would not drink it! There is no power on earth that can purify our contaminated hearts. Only the power of Christ can purify us. Jesus is the dialysis for man’s heart!

The bible uses yet another illustration of the state of our natural heart.

Deuteronomy 10:16 says Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked.

It may seem a little gross that the bible useless this illustration but there is a layer of skin that men naturally have from birth that has been proven to be beneficial to remove. The bible is saying the same thing when it describes the foreskin on our heart. It is a natural thing for our hearts to have a layer of evil over it (or dividing it) preventing it from functioning as well as it should. We go about the process of being circumcised when Christ comes into our lives.

Christ circumcises our hearts to allow our hearts to return to the state in which it was created. Our heart is circumcised so we can, once again, begin to reflect the glory of the Lord. The fall of man is not the beginning, nor the end of our story. The Word of the Lord was written on our heart at the beginning of time. The Word is in there.

Deuteronomy 30:6, 11-14 says: The LORD your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. (11) Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. (12) It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, "Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" (13) Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, "Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?" (14) No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

This is the truth that I believe has been right at our very fingertips. The Lord makes a point to tell us to circumcise our hearts so that it will no longer be divided and then we can love God will ALL of our hearts. The Lord also points out in this verse that this is not an impossible task. (Remember that this is written to people who did not yet have Christ.) God explains that it is not too difficult to unite our divided heart. It is not up in heaven or beyond the sea. No! The word is very near to us! It is written on our hearts.

When seeking to circumcise our wayward heart we need to remember the truth. In light of the fact that we were created in God’s image and his truth was written on our hearts from the beginning of time, we cannot continue to say that our heart is nothing but evil and villainy. That defames the name of the One who created us. The truth, the righteousness, the glory of God was written on our hearts BEFORE our hearts became divided.

1 Chronicles 28:9 says "Acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts.

You see, from the time wickedness came into the world and polluted the glory in which we were created, God had a plan to reunite our hearts. The Lord desires that we are transformed and that we come to a place in which our hearts are whole. This process was made possible by Christ. We have to submit ourselves to allow the Lord to search our heart, set our heart on a pilgrimage, if you will. There is a part of our heart that desires to walk in truth, to walk with the one who created us.

Psalms 86:11 says: Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.

Do you desire to have your heart restored to the glory in which you were created? We have but to cry out to the Lord and ask, as the Psalmist did, that our heart be undivided. God made a way for this to happen.

Ezekiel 11:19 says: I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.

Is that not an awesome plan? Oh how I desire to come into a place when my heart desires only goodness and truth. I don’t want wickedness to float to the top of my heart. I don’t want my heart’s inclination to be evil. I want a new heart… a transformed, circumcised heart!

I cry out: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalms 51:10) “Remove the pollutant of evil in my heart!” I believe the goodness of the One who wrote His Word on my heart cannot cohabitate with the wickedness in my divided heart. Thanks be to God that he provided a way for my heart to be reunited.

Read the rest of this series here:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Broken Part 1: Broken and Contrite Spirit

I have spent lots of time with all kinds of people: believers and the lost, normal average people and addicts fighting for their lives, dirt poor and wealthy, ambitious and laid-back, happy and despairing… and I have come to some conclusions about prevailing extremes that people bound up in sin fall into. There are those who are not BROKEN OVER THEIR SIN and those who BELIEVE THEY ARE HOPELESSLY BROKEN.

I believe that if bible teachers only address one group, the other will suffer. I think many teachers address the first group more frequently. These are the teachers that teach: hell, fire, and damnation and fail to adequately cover the grace of God. Under this kind of teaching the second group will wilt and retreat. They might possibly withdraw from the Lord altogether.

The truth is that both groups of people are suffering under lies. When sin is raging unchecked in a person’s life it is evidence that the truth is not present. The person might have an intellectual understanding of the truth but it has yet to penetrate their heart. There are many awesome truths to be had. Regardless of which group you fall into, let the Word of God wash away the lies in this place and write truth on the walls of your heart.

Inadequate teaching on sin has failed both groups of people. This would be a teaching that focuses on a person’s behavior or deeds. Behavior modification is not what the Lord wants.

Psalms 51:16-17 says: You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. (17) The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

When we come face to face with the El Roi- God who Sees. We desperately need Jehovah- Maceaddeshe- the Lord thy Sanctifier. From the beginning of time we have been sanctified, purified through sacrifice and when our spirits are broken over our sin we are in the perfect position to surrender. A person who is standing tall in the strength of their own accomplishments is not in the position to be perfected.

Pride is one of the toughest sins to deal with because the person suffering under it is unable to see their need for a savior. They can look at a person like me and know that I need a savior and still be unable to see their own need for a savior. When I came face to face with a perfect God my spirit immediately bowed down in submission, knowing that there was no way to please God by fleshly means. I had nothing in me that could make my flesh submit. Only Christ can do that. Once you are in the posture of being broken over your sin, the Lord is very close to you.

Psalms 34:18 says: The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

2 Corinthians 7:10 says Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

When we are wrought with sorrow over our sin we are in a position to be freed from that bondage. But do be careful not to slip into a worldly sorrow that this verse differentiates here. I believe the first part of this verse is describing people who are BROKEN OVER THEIR SIN and have a sorrow that will lead to repentance.

But a worldly sorrow is seen in people who BELIEVE THEY ARE HOPELESSLY BROKEN, people who operate under the lie that they are worthless. When we are broken over our sin we have our eyes fixed on the perfection of our savior. When we are focused on our state of brokenness we are focused on ourselves.

I remember being rebuked once by the words of Beth Moore when she said something to the effect of: Self loathing is still self worship. Worship is focus and when we are focused on how worthless we are, we are worshiping ourselves.

When we keep our eyes fixed on ourselves and all our failures, shame is what we are operating in. Shame is good masquerading as humility in the church. I don’t care what you think it is. If you are cowering in the corner loathing yourself, it is not what the Lord has for you. Shame is from the enemy and keeps your eyes fixed on your worthlessness. Humility has all eyes fixed on Jesus and the power his blood has to redeem us and make us new.


In an effort to reach the segment of the population who are not broken over their sin, a lie has invaded the church… It is the lie that we, human beings, are broken and there is nothing good in us. Even Christians retain this identity after they have received Christ. For years I operated under this incomplete teaching. You see in every good lie there is an element of truth.

As I was growing up, I was taught that people are nothing but sinners. They are hopelessly broken. I am not saying that this is a false teaching. It is merely incomplete. I think the lie has crept in through the back door of semantics. I believe the lie slips in through the wording we use. We don’t even realize what we are saying and we are serving to dishearten the body of Christ and turn the lost away.

This teaching’s purpose is to help show people who are not broken over their sin their need for a savior. It is true that because of the fall of man we have sin nature from the very beginning of our life. Sin is not something we are taught. It is something we have in our hearts. But I believe that is only part of the truth.

Does the fact that man fell in Genesis 3 give us the right to say that we are “nothing but sinners” or that we are “hopelessly broken?” Does that mean there is “no good in us?”

If you are committed to these statements, just hear me out. In the last chapter I dealt with the people who are not BROKEN OVER THEIR SIN. In this chapter I want to speak to those who BELIEVE THEY ARE HOPELESSLY BROKEN. If the Lord brought you into a place where you had to be broken over your sin and it served to transform you, it is easy for you to see the need for that in the lives of others. But let me tell you: people get stuck in that place (being broken) and turn from the Lord because they think they are worthless human beings incapable of doing good. I got stuck in that place.

When I was in anguish over my sin there were some bible verses that tormented me.

Hebrews 10:26-27 says: If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, (27) but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

I used to think that “received the knowledge of the truth” was those who were saved. Notice the focus in this verse is on receiving knowledge and not actual truth. There is a segment of the church population who have the knowledge in their head of God’s saving grace and have not experienced any transformation of the heart. They have not truly received the truth in their heart and it is evidence of their lack of salvation. If they are not BROKEN over their sin, it is an indicator that they do not truly know Christ.

We cannot be conceited enough to look into a person’s life who is bound up in sin and think we know if that person is broken over their sin. Only God knows the heart. That person can allow the Lord to search their heart to find if they have received the truth or merely the knowledge of the truth. Let’s not be too quick to judge another person’s heart by their actions alone.

Romans 2:5 says: But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

When I was walking as a slave to my sin, these two verses tormented me! And yet within these very verses was the truth that was supposed to set me free. I was struggling to change my behavior and yet what the Lord wanted to do was transform my heart. Notice, again, that the focus of this verse is on the heart and not on behavior, “because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart…” My heart was repentant, truly broken over my sin and yet I struggled to get my flesh to line up with the desires of my heart, the desire to honor God.

There is a battle that goes on between our flesh and our heart… our true self. When the heart is crying out for justice and the flesh is drawn to wickedness, the conflict can drive a person mad. The fact that a conflict exists is evidence that the Holy Spirit is alive and active in a person. If you can engage in sin day after day and not have guilt eating at you, it may be evidence that the Holy Spirit does not dwell in you.

This is why we find ourselves at the Lord’s feet. He is the one who searches our heart and He knows our motives. As I said, no one can look at a person’s deeds and know what is in their heart. Only the Lord can do that. A person has to have the desire to allow the Lord to examine them.

Revelation 3:1b-3 says: "To… the church in Sardis write: I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. (2) Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. (3) Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

God makes it very clear that our deeds are not what He cares the most about. When we stand before God and give him a list of all of our good deeds to justify ourselves, we must step back and examine our heart. Only he knows if we are alive or dead.

So let me strengthen what remains and is about to die, those of you who have a repentant heart and want your deeds line up with that desire to obey God, because his kindness brings you to repentance. I want to lift you up so that you do not die. You may take that as figurative or literal.

I have no desire to stand over another grave of a person who believes they are hopelessly BROKEN. Habitual sin in the life of a person who knows Christ is an indicator that the person is believing a lie. There are some pretty common lies that people fall under and it is different for everyone. Just as there is a wealth of truths in the bible, there is a wealth of lies from the pit of hell. Many times when a person is suffering under sin they have not even identified the lie.

Usually they are focused on their behavior. People drink or do drugs so they don’t feel guilty when they engage in sin. They can’t stop looking at porn. They get into debt and they begin to deceive and lie about things to cover their tracks. They are focused entirely on their career or padding their savings account and are neglectful or unloving toward their families.

In all these situations the focus is on behavior but if you look closely at each situation there is a lie that the person has bought: hook, line, and sinker. They are a slave to fear. They feel unworthy of love from a just God. They do not believe God will supply their needs and so they find security in money or possessions. As I said, there is a wealth of lies that can find any weak spot in our heart.

What has it been that the enemy uses to devour the hearts of the ones I love? What is the lie that gets the warrior in me so riled up? I suppose it is the lie that has defeated so many of my loved ones and caused people to take their own lives.

In the past 2 years I have suffered the loss of three dear people to suicide. Not the least of which is my own mother. I took all my anger and grief and decided to take up arms against the lie that had my loved ones bound. These dear women were broken over their sin and received the truth of Christ’s salvation in their hearts and yet they believed that they were irrevocably broken and their lives were not worth living.

These women were people I loved. They knew me and I knew them. I shared my heart with them. They were women who had beautiful hearts; women who served the Lord. They did the Lord’s work and changed lives with their service and testimonies and yet at the end of the day, when all was said and done, in the dark of the night, they believed a lie.

Ultimately the enemy devoured their light by their own hand. They picked up a bottle or picked up a gun, and took their life. The world stands back on sheer awe and confusion. How can this happen? They had the truth at their finger tips. They knew the truth and yet the lie served to stop their work on earth.

I don’t want their work on earth to be done and I tell their stories so the tragedy of their deaths has some purpose. I want you to know that you have to seek out the truth at all costs. It is a matter of life and death! These three dear souls were completely focused on their BROKENNESS and not on the life that was in them.

Finding the truth is not optional for me. Identifying the lies in your life is not enough. It is an important part of the process but most lies will not be seen unless revealed in the light of the truth. The Word of God, the truth, will reveal what is in the dark.

Read the rest of this series here