Monday, January 27, 2014

This Insatiable Quest for Comfort

I love Cozy. Warm. Comfy. Luxurious.  Convenient.  I appreciate the security of the familiar.    

I hate Unpredictable.  Insecure.  Uncomfortable.  Bumpy.  Unstable.

I want a well ordered, well planned life. 

I cringe to admit it but I crave comfort.

There are all sorts of gadgets and trinkets to aid me in this avid quest.  Microwaves, Kuerig machines, automatic car starters (which I definitely wish I had every time I step out my door in the frozen tundra of Michigan), electric toothbrushes, and on and on the list goes.


My quest for comfort doesn’t end with my physical needs.  It permeates so many areas of my life. 

My relationships with family and friends – I never want to ruffle the waters too much, say too much.  If we can just agree to slide our problems under a rug or hide them in a closet and pretend they’re not there than we can move on and no one gets upset. 


My exercise regimen – I have none.  It’s too uncomfortable.  It makes me sweat, which messes up my hair.  Not to mention how difficult it is to walk the next day!  Why would I want to torture myself when I can sit on the couch and enjoy a bag of potato chips instead?


And this insatiable drive for comfort moves right in and makes its home in my relationship with God.  My comfort demands, “I will follow you God if it doesn’t cost me too much, if you don’t ask me to step out of my “comfort zone”, if it's safe.  I’ll follow you if I can do it from my couch. I'll write a check and say the token prayer.  But don’t ask me to love those who are hard to love, let go of my well-deserved anger, surrender my self-righteousness or set aside time to be with You.  And by the way, if I follow You, I expect to be blessed. ”


Nowhere in the gospels does Jesus promote this idea of comfort at all costs. In fact it is just the opposite!   The  life Jesus lived was a life unhinged, unsafe, and uncomfortable.   “Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.”  Matthew 8.20 (NLT)

And He calls His followers to the same.  Matthew 26.24-25 (NLT).
“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.  If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it.  But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”


Pursuing comfort is contrary to following Jesus.  It's like oil and water.  Light and Darkness.  Fear and Trust.  They just don't go together.  Jesus calls us to a life that is risky, unsafe and in the world’s eyes, foolish.  It is anything but comfortable.

Are you “following” while trying to pursue a life of ease?  It doesn’t work.  It won’t work. 

Will you join with me in getting off the "couch" - that place where you are safe, comfortable and secure –  and truly FOLLOW! 


Lord, how easy it is to worship the god of comfort.  To seek “IT” rather than You.  I surrender my craving for comfort, and my need for security. Teach me to NOT just claim to follow You but really do it!  Amen.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

His Lavish Love

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And this what we are!  1 John 3.1 (NIV)

All around us there is failure and disappointment. 
Friends have let us down, elected officials have neglected their promises, families have turned their backs, and bosses continue to ignore our efforts.

And we fail.  We are self-focused, prone to wander, and easily swayed by human sentiments. 

But there is an anchor for our souls.  A compass to guide our way.  A fortress of refuge.

God’s. Unfailing.  Love.

Even when we were at war with Him, enemies of His kingdom, adversaries of His regime, He loved us!  Wanted us!  And created an elaborate plan to welcome us into His family!

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this:  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5.8 (NIV)

You were wanted . . .  You ARE wanted!

He lavishes us with His unfailing love.  He doesn’t dole it out in tiny increments when we do what He wants.  He doesn’t carefully guard His love and when He thinks we’re worthy enough,  gives us some.  He doesn’t hold back His love waiting for us to right ourselves.

His love for us is extravagant, unrestrained, excessive, abundant, and overflowing! It knows no limits.  Holds no conditions.  
It is an unlimited and boundless love.  

Do you know this love? 

Have you taken it for granted or are you . . . BASKING . . . REVELING . . . LIVING . . . in it? 

If you have never received His gift, now is the time!  God is waiting and ready to lavish His love on you!  For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3.16 (NIV)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Impossible Love

These days we toss the word LOVE around so casually.  “I love mashed potatoes.  I love football games and ham sandwiches.  I love movies that make me laugh and movies that make me cry.  I love hamburgers and apple pie.  I love my spouse.  I love my kids.  I love God.  I love my friends.”

Jesus calls His followers to a love that is way beyond casual. 
It's Crazy.  Supernatural. Foolish. 

It's a love that goes outside the norm and takes our breath away.  A love that is costly and knows no limits.  A love that is bold and unexpected.  A love that is lavish and expects nothing in return.

We’re not only to love like this but we’re to love our ENEMIES like this! 
Look what Jesus says in Luke 6.27-30 (NLT) . . .
"But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies!  Do good to those who hate you.  Bless those who curse you.  Pray for those who hurt you.  If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also.  If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also.  Give to anyone who ask; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back."

Do we love the one who left us for someone else?  The one who held our heart in their hands and carelessly discarded it?   The one who stole our innocence?  The one who emptied us  of all we are emotionally, mentally and physically?

How can we love like this?

We can’t!  Humanly speaking, it’s impossible to love like this.  But our God is the God of the impossible.  He specializes in doing the unexpected, the astonishing!  And He has implanted this crazy, foolish, transcendent love in our hearts that enables us to do what we could never do on our own!

His love enables us to love extravagantly, unconditionally and lavishly!  Will you open your heart to this love the Father has for you and let it fill you so full that it spills out into the hearts of your enemies and friends alike? 
Lord, we readily admit that we are frail and human, that our pain and hurt often get in the way of our love.  We need you.  Our love is fickle but Your is faithful.  Our love is conditional but Yours carries no conditions.  Our love is frivolous but Yours is purposeful and extravagant.  Teach us to love like You love.  Amen.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Blank Canvas

Eternal One, let me understand my end and how brief my earthly existence is; help me realize my life is fleeting.  You have determined the length of my days, and my life is nothing compared to You, even the longest life is only a breath. Psalm 39.4-5 (The Voice)

The New Year . . . a blank canvas awaiting the brush strokes of the painter . . . a lump of clay anticipating the hands of the potter. Three hundred and sixty-five days.  Fifty-two weeks.  Twelve months.   

What will this New Year be like?  What does it hold in its hand?  Good or Bad?  Joy or Sorrow?  Laughter or Tears?

Fear cuts so deep it almost takes my breath away.  It stalks me in the night and hovers on the edges of my days.

But there is also hope in the promise of a new tomorrow.  

Conflicting emotions.  Differing thoughts.  Overwhelming contemplations.

What will God do in my life this year?  So easy to fear.  So difficult to trust.

There’s no stopping this advance of time.  It slips through my fingers like sand. 

So how will I paint my canvas?  What shape will I form with the time I’m given?

Pen in hand, poised to write my new year’s resolutions for this two thousand, fourteen year . . .

I can’t help but wonder . . . What will I resolve to do in the fresh days of January, only to leave behind in the weeks to come?

My soul thirsts for something more, something deeper.  I long to make a difference.  I want my days to count.  

The air moves ever so softly, a faint whisper, “Ask me.”

Trembling, I ask, “What do YOU want to do in my life this year?  What are YOUR plans for me?” 

Lord, write Your plans on my heart.  Take this blank canvas, this lump of clay and do what you will.  Make my days count.  Don't let me squander the hours You have given me.  Don't let me waste my days living in the fear of “what if”.  Teach me to capture each moment, to live well and to love extravagantly.
What does God want to do in your life this year?