Category Archives: A Path Into God’s Heart

A Path Into God’s Heart (Part 5):


The last entry in this little series is deceptively simple…but utterly life-transforming if you put it into practice.

It is based on Philippians 1:27: Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

One of the best books I have ever read is Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. He writes: “God created me—and you—to live with a single, all-embracing, all-consuming passion–namely a passion to glorify God by enjoying and displaying His supreme excellence in all  the spheres of life.” (p.31)

All means all. 

I have the  amazing privilege of knowing Jesus personally and telling others about Him. There is no higher calling and no greater joy. After all that He has done for me, I want every area of my life to please Him.

So…every day (especially when trouble hits), I need to ask myself:

“Do my thoughts honor Him?”

“Does my attitude honor Him?”

Do my words honor Him?”

Do my actions honor Him?”

I have been amazed at how asking myself those simple questions has transformed my daily life.

My worry doesn’t honor Him. Nor does anger, or  harsh or critical words, complaining or unbelief.

I’m not talking about sheer willpower here. This is living by the Spirit…submitting my will to His, asking Him to take over and live His life through me, producing the fruit of His Spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23).

This has drawn my heart ever-closer to  the magnificent heart of Jesus. In the process, He is transforming this self-centered, proud, fearful and sometimes hard heart into one that honestly seeks to honor Him in all I say and do.

It is a beautiful exchange.

Let the King be enthralled by your beauty; honor Him for He is your Lord. –Ps. 45:11

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A Path Into God’s Heart (Part 4): Come As You Are


For weeks, I had held back the tears, determined not to cry.

My fear was that if I started crying, I would never be able to stop.

That morning, there it was in my devotional reading: the word Abba…which means “Daddy” or “Papa.”

Our blazingly glorious and holy God invites us…mere men, frail as grass, vapors…to call Him this!

I could hear Him tenderly calling my name from the  pages of Scripture…whispering…inviting me come…just as I am…no pretense, no posturing, no more trying to prove that I was strong in the face of this trial.

Still, I resisted, much like I had always done as a child. When someone hurt my feelings, I would rather die than let that person see that I was deeply wounded by their words or actions. Unshed tears would burn behind my eyes and lodge in my throat, but  by sheer force of will, I would not permit them to be unleashed. While my voice and actions gave the appearance of strength or indifference, my scarred and wounded soul was silently shouting, “I will never let you know how much you have hurt me.”

Some habits die hard.

I softly closed my Bible, choosing to ignore His still, small Voice.

My eyes remained dry as I went about my day.

However…we can never truly run from the One who sees it all (Psalm 139:1-5) and who loves us far too much to leave us drowning in our pain.

At one point during that day, I picked up a book and read these words: “As we get older, we get less naive and more cynical. Disappointment…(is) the norm instead of hoping and dreaming. Our childhood faith dies a thousand little deaths.” A Praying Life by Paul Miller, p. 39

And that was it…the dam burst.

It was just as I feared…the tears simply would not stop. Instinctively, I began crying out to my God. Even in the midst of  great pain, my heart is still captivated with Him. In the deepest part of me, I know that He is for me.

My mind replayed all the disappointments, dead-end roads, closed doors, dashed hopes, and unanswered questions of this season…and all of a sudden,  I heard myself choking out these words, “You. have. hurt. my. feelings!”

Whoa. Where did that come from? I didn’t even realize that is how I felt.

“Why aren’t You fixing this??? You could…but You’re not!”

There it was. The truth was out…and it revealed an ugly, demanding spirit.

Yet…there were no lightning bolts from heaven. There was no condemnation. There was no anger.

There was one word, being offered like a sweet and soothing balm straight from the Throne of the universe: “Abba…Daddy…Papa.” 

The Lord is like a father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him”–Psalm 103:13.

There are few things that move a parent’s heart like their child’s tears. We reach out to them, we hold them, we try to soothe them, and we lovingly wipe the tears away. We try to make it better and if we could absorb their pain as our own we gladly would.

God’s heart cannot remain unmoved where we are concerned.

One of the most liberating truths that I learned that day is that we don’t have to hide anything from God.

Not our worst thought, our greatest fear, our most heinous sin, our ugliest feeling, our harshest word.

And not our weakness…not ever.

It is only when we admit our total inadequacy that His infinite strength can come rushing in, filling up the empty spaces.

If we do not reveal our raw, true feelings to God, we only harm ourselves. By refusing to be honest with Him, we keep our wounded heart from receiving the full healing that He alone can offer.

He knows it all anyway and has already assured us in His Word that nothing we can ever do or say that will cause us to lose His unconditional love (Romans 8:38-39).

The freedom I felt after the tears finally stopped that afternoon was immense. He accepts me even at my worst. I am fully loved…and I can trust that love.

Today, if you are hurting, please spend some time reading Romans 8.

And run to your Abba. His arms are open wide.

God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before Him. (Psalm 18:20, The Message)

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A Path Into God’s Heart (Part 3): Powerful Praise


Praise is the switch that turns on the light of joy in our lives even when its dark outside.”—Anne Graham Lotz

Today has been a very rough day…more disappointments, more struggles, more questions about why things happen as they do…not only in my life, but in the lives of those I love.

It is ironic that my subject for this post today was praise.

Then again, it’s actually perfect…because it is so easy to praise when the sun is shining…but to do so during the rough times is often a sheer act of the will.

As Anne Graham Lotz writes: “The highest form of genuine praise is not necessarily a sentimental feeling with tears streaming down your cheeks…genuine praise is the gut-wrenching affirmation of faith uttered in the darkness of desperation as you cling to Him alone.” Pursuing More Of Jesus  pp. 52-52

Praise is one of the most powerful weapons we have.

Psalm 22:3 declares that the Lord is enthroned by our praises.

So, when troubles come, we have a choice: will we choose to enthrone our problems in our hearts…or will we enthrone Jesus?

I can rehearse my problems…which dims His light in my life and drags me deeper into the darkness of self-absorption….or I can recount the multi-faceted wonders of my Savior and His great and precious promises to me.

When Jesus has me on a wild ride and He takes a detour that I had not anticipated—nor wanted—I have learned to soak myself in a particular Scripture that gives me great encouragement. This verse refers to Abraham and his astonishing faith.

God had promised Abraham that He would make him the father of multitudes. There was only one small problem…Abraham was 100 years old and his wife Sarah was in her 90s. Abraham could have easily only focused on the impossibility of his circumstances. Twenty-five years had passed since God gave him that promise. He could have given in to despair…yet he did not allow himself to go down that road. Instead, Scripture tells us what he did:

No unbelief or distrust made him waver (doubtingly question) the promises of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God, fully satisfied  and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His Word and do what He had promised.”–Romans 4:20-21 (Amplified Version).

Abraham had no reason for human hope. Sometimes, neither do we. However, Abraham’s hope was not in other humans or improved circumstances.  His hope was in his  God. He had two anchors for his faith: 1)the goodness, power, and trustworthiness of his God; and 2) the reliability of God’s promises.

The same things are available to me. So, when I feel shaken, I can reach for this Scripture and say, ” Lord, I will not permit myself to operate in unbelief. In Your strength, I  will not waver in my determination to trust in You and Your promises. I will not doubt You or question Your goodness.”

That is the first shot fired at the enemy as he seeks to fill me with fear and knock me off balance.

Then comes the knockout punch as I follow Abraham’s lead. Notice what the above verse  says gave Abraham strength and power despite his dispiriting circumstances: PRAISE.

The enemy cannot abide listening to God receive praise.  It is the best way to get rid of him and his incessant taunts and lies. I like how Tony Evans puts it in his book The Battle Is The Lord’s: ” How do we get some R & R from Satan? By praising God. In fact, the stronger the opposition, the more you need to praise God in the midst of your opposition. Satan can’t handle praise. He is allergic to worship. He has to flee, because when we praise God, He shows up to enjoy our praises. And Satan cannot abide the presence of God. So if your adversary is opposing you hard right now, it’s time to praise! When we praise, we resist Satan’s opposition.” (James 4:7), p. 181 

I have learned to begin listing (usually out loud if I can) all the beautiful attributes of Jesus. I praise Him for all that He has done  for me in the past and promises to do in the future. I praise Him for the incredible gift of His Word. There are times when I just open the Psalms and make the psalmist heartfelt praises my own.  And I always thank Him for saving me, for writing my name in the Book of Life. Truth be told, if He never did anything else for me but save me from the hell of eternal separation from Him, that is enough. 

Sometimes, all I can do is whisper His Name over and over again.

Without fail, praising calms my heart, as Jesus draws near and reminds me that He is in full control, regardless of what I see. Praising Him draws me out of myself and into His heart. It reminds me that this life is not about me…it is only and always ultimately about Him. (Colossians 1:15-17)

Praise reminds me that He is able!  :

*to bless you abundantly so that in all things, at all times you have all you need (2 Corinthians 9:8)

*to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us. (Ephesians 3:20)

*to guard what you have entrusted to Him (2 T imothy 1:12)

*to help you when you are tempted (Hebrews 2:18)

*to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious Presence without fault and with great joy (Jude 1:24)

What can you praise Him for today…even in the midst of your trials?

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…(James 4:8)

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A Path Into God’s Heart (Part 2): Nowhere


This quote from Brennan Manning completely captured my attention a few months ago:

The music of what is happening can be heard only in the present moment, right now, right here. Now/here spells nowhere. To be fully present to whoever or whatever is immediately before us is to pitch a tent in the wilderness of Nowhere. It is an act of radical trust—trust that God can be encountered at no other time and in no other place than the present moment. Being fully present in the now is perhaps the premier skill of the spiritual life.

There is only NOW…real living is about…experiencing who or what is immediately before us…to live in the present moment requires profound trust that the abundant life Jesus promised is experienced only in Nowhere.” —Ruthless Trust , pp. 150-158                                    

These words transformed my outlook on all of life.

I read them when I was sitting in my car in the high school parking lot, waiting for my son. Suddenly, I was no longer “passing the time” until Josh arrived. I closed the book and became fully present to what was happening in that very moment.

Jesus was here with me! In THIS moment!

It was almost as if He had opened the passenger door, slid into the seat, and greeted me  with a dazzling smile. I had a sudden, electric sense of His very Presence, which seemed to fill the car.

Ever since I became a Christian and learned that Jesus’ very Spirit comes to reside within the heart of every believer, I have known intellectually that He is always with me. And yes, there certainly have been times when I have felt His Presence.

Yet, it was as if He invited me to open my eyes to the incredible reality that He can only be experienced and encountered NOW.

The past is over and the future is not yet…I cannot physically live in either place.

This very moment is where time and eternity meet.

The enemy seeks to do all he can to veil this life-changing truth from me.  He wants to keep me imprisoned in regret over the past (“How could you have behaved like that?”)  and stark fear about the future (“You’re going to lose everything.”).

That is NOT living…and he knows that full well. Remember, he seeks only to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). By keeping me from fully experiencing and seeing NOW…he tries to steal my peace, kill my hope, and destroy my intimacy with Jesus.

However, Jesus beckons me into the beautiful NOW—the only place on this earth where He can be encountered in all His fullness!

All of Him is available to all of me in this moment. Such a staggering thought!

Ann Voskamp beautifully writes of this truth: “Joy is always possible. Whenever, meaning—now; wherever, meaning—-here. The holy grail of joy is not in some exotic location or some emotional mountain peak experience.  The joy wonder could be here! Here—in this messy, piercing ache of now, joy might be—unbelievably—possible! The only place we need see before we die in this place is seeing God, here and now.”  (One Thousand Gift, p. 33).             

Joy filled my heart because…I can do now!

Jesus never asks me to try to figure things out on my own. He does not expect me to store up enough faith to make it through a stressful time. Instead, He asks me:

“Do you have faith in Me right now?”

Are you fully alive this moment? Are you tuned in to the music of now?”

Can you believe for this moment that I love you passionately, completely, unconditionally? That right now, I am doing good to you?”

Would you fully embrace the fact that I am right here with you in all My glory and power? “

Yes! I can do that!  And so can you.

Right here in Now/here, you can have a divine celebration, whatever your circumstances. Yes, even the tough ones. When I am caught up in the reality of His Presence, my trials, though still real and painful, cease to be my main focus. They ultimately become the background because Jesus has taken center stage, driving out fear and flooding the dark places with His light.

Ask Him to open your eyes to the fact that He is risen. He is here. His arms are open.

I have never been so alive. My head knowledge about Jesus is now saturating my heart and the result is such joy…His joy…even though my circumstances are still tough.

My senses have been heightened because every moment is blazingly alive with His animated and energizing Presence.

I feel  the warm sun on my skin.

I savor the taste of my food.

I drink in the beauty of His glorious creation.

I laugh deeper and more frequently. I let tears fall.

I lovingly study the faces of my precious loved ones, celebrating the  sheer miracle  and gift that they are.

I acknowledge my emptiness and invite Him to fill those places and make me whole.

I  can embrace the ache of living in a fallen world, rather than surrendering to despair because His Presence comforts and soothes and heals me as He quietly whispers that this is not all there is…the best is yet to come.

I surrender to His ways because He knows what He is doing and He makes all things beautiful in its time. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

I treasure all that my days hold…because every single minute, I  am held in His powerful hand and delightfully, I am the focus of His intense love. Always, He is here…in the now…revealing more of Himself to me and I am continually astonished  by His beauty.

He is writing my story…and yours…in the beautiful, sacred moment called now.

Taste and see.…” (Ps. 34:8)

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A Path Into God’s Heart (Part 1): A Wild Ride


I recently heard Beth Moore say this about life with Jesus: “Do you want a wild ride of a life? It’s not a wild drive; it’s a ride…Get in the passenger seat, throw your head back, and let the wind blow through your hair.”

Author Peter Hiett writes, “If John (the Baptist) prepared the highway, Jesus rides a Harley down it and He wants you on the back.” 

Then there is this from Dorothy Sayers: ” The people responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus never accused Him of being a bore—on the contrary; they thought Him too dynamic to be safe. It has been left to later generations to muffle up that shattering personality and surround Him with a yawning ho-hum atmosphere of tedium. We have efficiently trimmed the claws of the Lion of Judah, certified Him ‘meek and mild,’ and recommended Him as a fitting pet for pale curates and pious old ladies.” 

Brennan Manning once shared the story about a repressed nun named Christine who rarely smiled or laughed and never danced. One day in prayer, she had a vision where she was in a ballroom: “I was sitting by myself on a wooden chair, when a man approached me, took my hand, and led me onto the floor. He held me in his arms and led me in the dance. The tempo of the music increased and we whirled faster and faster. The man’s eyes never left my face. His radiant smile covered me with warmth and delight, and a sense of acceptance. Everyone else on the floor stopped dancing. They were staring at us…I glanced at his hands and then I knew. Brilliant wounds of a battle long ago, almost like a signature carved in flesh. The music tapered to a slow, lilting melody and Jesus rocked me back and forth. As the dance ended, he pulled me close to him. Do you know what he whispered?…’Christine, I’m wild about you.”

***

Chances are, you may not have thought about Jesus in the above ways. Sometimes He allows a season in our lives that shatters our preconceived notions of Him and draws us into unparalleled intimacy with the Lover of our soul.

A little over two years ago, in His infinite wisdom and kindness, Jesus decided that it was time for my wild ride to begin.

He was determined to fully engage my heart. He was undeterred by—yet sympathetic to— my resistance, my temper tantrums, my copious tears of confusion and self-pity.

My prayers for this season to end were answered with a firm but loving, “Not yet.”

When I begged for answers, He repeatedly assured me, “I AM the answer.”

When my Type-A-loves-to-be-in-control personality thought I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and was convinced that He was about to wrap all this up in a great big glorious bow, He spoke unmistakeably and powerfully to my spirit:

“Do not presume upon Me.”

His goal was for me to know and experience Him as He truly is…not as I wish Him to be.

Without a doubt, this has been both terrifying and electrifying.

No one can experience the risen Jesus and remain unmoved and unchanged.

I will never be the same.

Through it all, He has shown me a pathway that leads directly to His heart and I would like to share that pathway with you. All of our journeys with Jesus are unique and tailor-made. He is a Person to be known, not a religion to be carefully followed. There are no “three-easy-steps to intimacy with Jesus. So, I am not sharing a blueprint…I am simply sharing what He has shown me as I have taken this journey with Him, with the hope that you will find encouragement for wherever you are in your walk of faith.

Jesus longs to give us all of Himself. But so often, our wandering hearts continually look for something else.  He intends for His followers to fully experience Him in this life, but every time we try to protect ourselves from pain and risk, we miss Him.

During this season, He  was calling me to surrender to this ride, knowing that I can trust wherever He is taking me…which ultimately is straight into His passionate heart where overflowing joy resides.

I was ready to slide over and relinquish the wheel.

It was the best decision I ever made.

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