Category: Devotional

Oar What?

Have you ever been kayaking? Have you sat still while the current ebbed around you, carried you gently, and released you further along?

Did you stop to admire where the trees met the water? That place mimicking a horizon but nearly indistinguishable. Instead of shouting its existence, the line seeps into a reflection on the glass-like surface.

I find such a scene breathtaking. Its serenity encompasses you and invites you to rest, to pause, to exhale.

And you know what else? It speaks its life over us as a reminder of God knitting us into being. When He made us, He made us to reflect Him.

Then God said, “Let us make man in Our image, after Our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” ~ Genesis 1:26 (ESV)

Just last month, as I kayaked for the second time in my life, Jesus showed me something beautiful about where the water meets land. Just as we were created in His image, we have been called to reflect Him in our lives.

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (ESV).

You see, our lives are like water—crafted with grace, influence, the capacity to move quickly or sit still, with strength, peace, and a beckoning to all who gaze on our beauty. Even more than these is our purpose to reflect the Creator, or in this case, the trees and all-encompassing shore.

As the person in the kayak, we choose to control our lives by rowing one stroke of the oar at a time. Here is where God struck my heart… Just as rowing generates ripples in water, when we take control of our lives, we disturb the reflection of Christ in us. It becomes skewed and difficult to discern.

Before I get carried away with this word picture, bear with me. This does not mean we have a free pass to take a backseat and do nothing. We are called to pursue Him which requires action on our part. Sitting idly by is not always God’s intention for our obedience. So, the comparison to any stroke causing ripples and thus disturbing the reflection may be too broad. The point is this: we are meant to surrender our lives—including control—to Christ. We need to give up our oars.

We can still take action. We are still called to exemplify Love to those around us. These are necessary things. But, at the forefront of each step (or stroke) is Jesus. He steers, He writes the story, He nudges us in the right direction or brings us back on track after we fall astray.

The next time you see a reflection in water grow hazy through ripples, think about the ways God is calling each of us to relinquish our control to Him. It will not be easy… As someone who desires control of circumstances, I know I battle this all the time. If that’s you, know you are not alone. Still, no matter where you find yourself, I pray Jesus will use these words to bring freedom and peace in Him.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

Sometimes progress looks like two steps forward and one step back.

I am choosing healthier foods more now, but I still splurge on sweet treats often. Progress.

I’m stopping to listen now and again to God’s heart rather than simply follow my desires. Still, I return to the easy option of hollow entertainment. Progress.

Setting aside my selfishness to serve others may happen in greater frequency, but I continue to say, “Nah, I would rather do something else.” Progress.

No, I’m not encouraging being self-centered, gluttonous, or undisciplined. We need to challenge ourselves, but we need to stop hating ourselves.

It’s a two-fold process. Move onward with your eyes fixed on Jesus, yes. Then when you inevitably fail, know He still loves you.

Learn God’s love for you so you can show His love for others. Respond to Jesus with a heart aimed toward holiness. Let Him pick you up when your arrow goes astray.

We need to challenge ourselves, but we need to stop hating ourselves.

What does it look like to accept God’s justification of us through faith? What does it look like to know how rotten we are but start grasping how loved we are?

Run to Him. Cling to Him. Don’t turn when you fail, but stop and rest knowing it is an opportunity to glorify Him in His unconditional love. Then, get back up and continue pursuing His best.

Let’s learn grace and love and righteousness and failure and joy and peace as we take steps forward (and back).

~ Progress towards God’s heart is progress indeed. ~

Unrighteous

Psalm 24

“The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell therein.
For He has founded it upon the seas,
And established it upon the waters.

Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
Or who may stand in His holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol,
Nor sworn deceitfully.
He shall receive blessing from the Lord,
And righteousness from the God of his salvation.
This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him,
Who seek Your face. Selah

Lift up your heads, O you gates!
And be lifted up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O you gates!
Lift up, you everlasting doors!
And the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
He is the King of glory.”

As I read this chapter today, I realized that there are a number of areas in which I fall short. Do I have clean hands? A pure heart? While I’d like to think so, the answer is most definitely “no.”

Do I treat God as my only god? I’d like to resolutely agree, but sometimes I let the show I’m binge-watching or my Instagram feed take over my day-to-day devotion.

These realizations aren’t new to me, but they’re still as disheartening as ever. What am I to do when the world around me swirls me through the funnel of media and distraction? How am I supposed to join Jesus one day?

That’s where this turns around and becomes a triumphant anecdote.

Romans 3:22-26 says, “…For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

God already knows we fail at nearly every turn. He sees us, knows us, hears our cries, and welcomes us with open arms. Salvation is available to us through His righteousness as we cannot fully attain it on our own. Jesus paid the price. And the gift is freedom from eternal separation from God. We get life, and life with Him.

So, the next time you’re noticing your weaknesses or failures, remember that Jesus is not only a cool guy who lived a long time ago but also the King of glory who died a terrible death and rose again so we could have relationship with Him forever.

Search My Heart

Learning to pursue God as He pursues me — relentlessly.

How Productive Is Worrying?

Not productive at all, if you were wondering. “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:27

Treat Every Day

…Like it’s the first.
As I was driving along the other day, Matthew West’s “Day One” began to play, and the lyrics really sank in.

Exposed

The other day, I was filling out a form for an organization I’m a part of, and I had the opportunity to be dishonest.

Where’s the light?

I’m going to be honest with you right now — I have had a rough week. Not because anything went particularly wrong but because of an overwhelming workload.

The Fruits of Follow-Through

“Find your passion.” “Do what you love.” “Know your calling.” These are a few of the phrases you get used to hearing when you attend a Lutheran, liberal arts college.

The Power of Truth

Last month, I went to a worship night, and the fear I had been a slave to these many years was broken down.