The Hungering and Thirsting

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” John 4:34

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.” Psalm 42:1

“Taste and see that the LORD is good…” Psalm 34:8

Have you ever wanted something so badly, it seemed like you would do anything to get it? What happened when you finally got it? I think of a child in November walking through the toy department pointing out to his parents all the new toys he wants for Christmas. Yet those objects that brought so much joy and excitement on December 25 tend to lose some appeal by mid January. They are old toys. They have been played with, now it is time to move on.

What about that prize that is more precious and meaningful than all the others? I was privileged enough to have met the love of my life while in high school. When we first started dating, everything was new and exciting. We both tried our best to impress the other in hopes of making the other fall in love. Those were fun times. But if you ask me now, over four years later, if I feel the same way, the answer would be a definite “no.” I feel better than I did back then. I love her more than I thought possible while in high school.

I am still excited about seeing her. I miss her dearly when I go for a day or more without being around her. I still try to impress her and make her love me, even though I already won her. I am both filled and yet desiring to be filled with her and her love. Our feelings for each other grow stronger with every moment we spend together, yet the desire to experience each other also grows more intense every time we part ways.

I believe this is how God wants our relationship to be with him. The brilliant author A.W. Tozer words it this way, “To have found God and still to pursue him is the soul’s paradox of love.” (Pursuit of God)

St. Bernard also states in lyrical form, as quoted by Tozer,

“We taste Thee, O Thou Living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still:
We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead
And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.”

Do you long for a relationship with the Sovereign Lord and Creator? I sure hope so. He desires our companionship so incredibly that he sent his only Son down to this earth as a sacrifice in our behalf so that by believing in Him we might have opportunity to live with him eternally in heaven. Relationship is at the heart of the gospel. Following Christ is intended to parallel a relationship between the bridegroom and his bride, and there is nothing mechanical or formulaic about a love story.

In his first epistle, Peter indicates that it is impossible to mature in our saving relationship with Christ until we have tasted the goodness of the Lord. So please, take a bite. Have a sip. You’ll want more, I promise.

Are you hungry?

—————-
Now playing: Steadman – Come Alive
via FoxyTunes

The Hungering and Thirsting

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13-14

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” John 4:34

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.” Psalm 42:1

“Taste and see that the LORD is good…” Psalm 34:8

Have you ever wanted something so badly, it seemed like you would do anything to get it? What happened when you finally got it? I think of a child in November walking through the toy department pointing out to his parents all the new toys he wants for Christmas. Yet those objects that brought so much joy and excitement on December 25 tend to lose some appeal by mid January. They are old toys. They have been played with, now it is time to move on.

What about that prize that is more precious and meaningful than all the others? I was privileged enough to have met the love of my life while in high school. When we first started dating, everything was new and exciting. We both tried our best to impress the other in hopes of making the other fall in love. Those were fun times. But if you ask me now, over four years later, if I feel the same way, the answer would be a definite “no.” I feel better than I did back then. I love her more than I thought possible while in high school.

I am still excited about seeing her. I miss her dearly when I go for a day or more without being around her. I still try to impress her and make her love me, even though I already won her. I am both filled and yet desiring to be filled with her and her love. Our feelings for each other grow stronger with every moment we spend together, yet the desire to experience each other also grows more intense every time we part ways.

I believe this is how God wants our relationship to be with him. The brilliant author A.W. Tozer words it this way, “To have found God and still to pursue him is the soul’s paradox of love.” (Pursuit of God)

St. Bernard also states in lyrical form, as quoted by Tozer,

“We taste Thee, O Thou Living Bread,
And long to feast upon Thee still:
We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead
And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.”

Do you long for a relationship with the Sovereign Lord and Creator? I sure hope so. He desires our companionship so incredibly that he sent his only Son down to this earth as a sacrifice in our behalf so that by believing in Him we might have opportunity to live with him eternally in heaven. Relationship is at the heart of the gospel. Following Christ is intended to parallel a relationship between the bridegroom and his bride, and there is nothing mechanical or formulaic about a love story.

In his first epistle, Peter indicates that it is impossible to mature in our saving relationship with Christ until we have tasted the goodness of the Lord. So please, take a bite. Have a sip. You’ll want more, I promise.

Are you hungry?

—————-
Now playing: Steadman – Come Alive
via FoxyTunes

The Meek


Humility is strong–not bold; quiet–not speechless; sure–not arrogant.
Estelle Smith

—————-

Saturday was the big day. Charlie was finally turning seven years old. Anticipation increased as each day drew him nearer to that wonderful age. He would finally be able to help his dad with the farm work and do big-boy jobs, like milking the cows, branding the calves, building fences (with some help of course). He just knew that he would grow up to be big and strong like his dad.

Charlie had spent hours watching his dad chop firewood, work on cars, plow fields, bail hay, and all the other things that real men do. Just the thought of actually being able to help with all this made him squirm in excitement.

Saturday came and went. Charlie was finally seven. His parents had assured him that he would be out on the farm working with his father early Monday morning. He could hardly wait. After Sunday church, Charlie spent most of the day getting ready for the next morning. He knew exactly which “dirty-play” clothes he was going to wear, and his cowboy boots were right next to his bed. He was ready.

The sun hadn’t even come up when his mom woke him up for breakfast. He eagerly got out of bed, put on his clothes and boots, and headed downstairs to begin this new part of his life.

After eating his eggs, bacon, and biscuits, his dad took him out to the barnyard to show him how to milk the cows. Next came feeding the chickens and goats. Then chopping up some firewood (the heavy axe was awkward in Charlie’s seven-year-old arms). The day went on and so did the work.

Charlie had had just about all his little body could handle for his first day’s work, but his dad had some more to do. Determined not to disappoint his dad, Charlie pressed on. The time came to yoke up the work horse to the plow and prepare the fields. His dad allowed Charlie to walk along beside him as they went up and down, row by row.

As they plowed, Charlie began talking about what he and the others had discussed in Sunday school the previous morning.

“Our teacher is teaching us about the beatitudes, and she gave us some homework for next week. We’re supposed to think of an example of meekness.”

“Now that sounds like a good thing for you to do,” his dad replied. “What do you think so far?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t really understand what it means to be meek. She tried to explain it, but I didn’t get it.”

“Well, son, look right in front of you. This horse is a great example of meekness. He used to be a wild horse. He wouldn’t think twice about trampling anyone who got near to him. But after a while, I was able to tame him, bring him under control. Now he is even stronger than he was before. If he wanted to, he could trample me right now, and I’m no match for his strength. But I know he is not going to because he has become tame. He’s gentle enough for you to pet and feed. He’s extremely powerful, but his power is under control. That’s what it means to be meek. Does that help explain it for you?”

“Wow, dad. Thanks a lot. I think I know what I’m going to tell my teacher next Sunday.”

_______

The rest of the week was spent doing the same kind of chores around the farm. Charlie could feel his seven-year-old muscles getting stronger already.

The next Sunday rolled around, and as Charlie was sitting in Sunday school, his teacher asked the class for the results of their assignment. Charlie’s was the first hand to shoot up.

“Yes, Charlie. You look eager to share with us. What did you come up with for an example of meekness?”

Charlie looked proud and confident as he answered, “My dad.”

—————-
Now playing: Queen – Somebody to Love
via FoxyTunes

The Meek


Humility is strong–not bold; quiet–not speechless; sure–not arrogant.
Estelle Smith

—————-

Saturday was the big day. Charlie was finally turning seven years old. Anticipation increased as each day drew him nearer to that wonderful age. He would finally be able to help his dad with the farm work and do big-boy jobs, like milking the cows, branding the calves, building fences (with some help of course). He just knew that he would grow up to be big and strong like his dad.

Charlie had spent hours watching his dad chop firewood, work on cars, plow fields, bail hay, and all the other things that real men do. Just the thought of actually being able to help with all this made him squirm in excitement.

Saturday came and went. Charlie was finally seven. His parents had assured him that he would be out on the farm working with his father early Monday morning. He could hardly wait. After Sunday church, Charlie spent most of the day getting ready for the next morning. He knew exactly which “dirty-play” clothes he was going to wear, and his cowboy boots were right next to his bed. He was ready.

The sun hadn’t even come up when his mom woke him up for breakfast. He eagerly got out of bed, put on his clothes and boots, and headed downstairs to begin this new part of his life.

After eating his eggs, bacon, and biscuits, his dad took him out to the barnyard to show him how to milk the cows. Next came feeding the chickens and goats. Then chopping up some firewood (the heavy axe was awkward in Charlie’s seven-year-old arms). The day went on and so did the work.

Charlie had had just about all his little body could handle for his first day’s work, but his dad had some more to do. Determined not to disappoint his dad, Charlie pressed on. The time came to yoke up the work horse to the plow and prepare the fields. His dad allowed Charlie to walk along beside him as they went up and down, row by row.

As they plowed, Charlie began talking about what he and the others had discussed in Sunday school the previous morning.

“Our teacher is teaching us about the beatitudes, and she gave us some homework for next week. We’re supposed to think of an example of meekness.”

“Now that sounds like a good thing for you to do,” his dad replied. “What do you think so far?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t really understand what it means to be meek. She tried to explain it, but I didn’t get it.”

“Well, son, look right in front of you. This horse is a great example of meekness. He used to be a wild horse. He wouldn’t think twice about trampling anyone who got near to him. But after a while, I was able to tame him, bring him under control. Now he is even stronger than he was before. If he wanted to, he could trample me right now, and I’m no match for his strength. But I know he is not going to because he has become tame. He’s gentle enough for you to pet and feed. He’s extremely powerful, but his power is under control. That’s what it means to be meek. Does that help explain it for you?”

“Wow, dad. Thanks a lot. I think I know what I’m going to tell my teacher next Sunday.”

_______

The rest of the week was spent doing the same kind of chores around the farm. Charlie could feel his seven-year-old muscles getting stronger already.

The next Sunday rolled around, and as Charlie was sitting in Sunday school, his teacher asked the class for the results of their assignment. Charlie’s was the first hand to shoot up.

“Yes, Charlie. You look eager to share with us. What did you come up with for an example of meekness?”

Charlie looked proud and confident as he answered, “My dad.”

—————-
Now playing: Queen – Somebody to Love
via FoxyTunes

Those Who Mourn, part 2: The Comfort

“Our present joys are sweeter for past pain;
To Love and Heaven by suffering we attain.”
– George Granville, The British Enchanters
Act V, scene 2
_______________________

God, you are awesome!
I will always remember your Power and Might
You are worthy of praise because you are holy.
You are holy and just, yet you are gracious
Because you have heard me.
Thank you.

I now have the strength I need to yield all to you.
You have given me the boldness I need
As well as the opportunities to be bold for you.

You have heard my cries and came running
Like a father to his newborn son.

I can never repay you for your gracious love
Yet I will strive my hardest to try.
Your name will be praised everywhere I go
Whether eating dinner with my family,
In the congregation of believers,
Or even down the halls of my school.

Everyone who sees me will know that I am different
And that doesn’t scare me like it used to.
When they ask why, my answer is simple:
I am different because the God of the universe
Cares about me.

Everything I do, I will do to your glory
Everywhere I go, I will spread the good news about you
My life will be a life of worship to you
Because you are the God of the oppressed,
The outcast, the misfits, the ugly, and the underrated
Yet you are Lord of the wealthy,
The fortunate, the blessed. and the successful

You have answered my prayers
And have done incredibly more
Than all I could have asked or imagined.

Thank you for your power
Thank you for your comfort
Thank you for your love

Thank you for being God.

—————-

Those Who Mourn, part 2: The Comfort

“Our present joys are sweeter for past pain;
To Love and Heaven by suffering we attain.”
– George Granville, The British Enchanters
Act V, scene 2
_______________________

God, you are awesome!
I will always remember your Power and Might
You are worthy of praise because you are holy.
You are holy and just, yet you are gracious
Because you have heard me.
Thank you.

I now have the strength I need to yield all to you.
You have given me the boldness I need
As well as the opportunities to be bold for you.

You have heard my cries and came running
Like a father to his newborn son.

I can never repay you for your gracious love
Yet I will strive my hardest to try.
Your name will be praised everywhere I go
Whether eating dinner with my family,
In the congregation of believers,
Or even down the halls of my school.

Everyone who sees me will know that I am different
And that doesn’t scare me like it used to.
When they ask why, my answer is simple:
I am different because the God of the universe
Cares about me.

Everything I do, I will do to your glory
Everywhere I go, I will spread the good news about you
My life will be a life of worship to you
Because you are the God of the oppressed,
The outcast, the misfits, the ugly, and the underrated
Yet you are Lord of the wealthy,
The fortunate, the blessed. and the successful

You have answered my prayers
And have done incredibly more
Than all I could have asked or imagined.

Thank you for your power
Thank you for your comfort
Thank you for your love

Thank you for being God.

—————-

Those Who Mourn, part 1

Psalm 22
A Psalm of David, adapted by me

God, Where are you? Have you turned you back on me completely?
I feel like you’re so far away,
Off in the heavens, somewhere out…there.
As I speak, it feels like my words are just hitting the ceiling.
I’m crying out to you day and night,
So why won’t you answer me?

I know you’re holy, you are bigger than me.
You are worshipped by millions of people around the world.
I remember all the Bible stories I heard in Sunday school,
About Joseph, Daniel, Job, and the others.
They cried out to you, and you brought them through.
They put their trust in you and you made good on your promise.

But how can I compete with them?
I’m nothing compared to those great men I have read about.
I don’t fit in, I don’t belong.
My own youth group doesn’t accept me.
Everyone at school makes fun of the fact that I’m a Christian.
They mock my faith in you, they mock your power,
And now I’m beginning to believe them.

I feel so hypocritical when I’m around them
Because I try to fit in.
It’s hard to tell how real my faith is sometimes.

You have been my God since I was born.
I’ve been going to church and Sunday school since I was in diapers.
I’ve grown up hearing about you,
But I guess I never really felt you
I never truly experienced you.

I don’t want you to be that far away ever again
Especially in this part of my life.
The guys at school just don’t know when to quit.
They keep pushing me around because I’m the little guy.
My friends have made stabbed me in the back.
People spread rumors about me.
They go out of their way to make my life miserable,
All because I’m a Christian.

I’m close to calling it quits. It doesn’t feel worth it anymore.
Please, just show me something, anything!
Let me know you’re here, with me, right now –
Not off somewhere out there.

I need you.

—————-
Now playing: The Decemberists – The Soldering Life
via FoxyTunes

Those Who Mourn, part 1

Psalm 22
A Psalm of David, adapted by me

God, Where are you? Have you turned you back on me completely?
I feel like you’re so far away,
Off in the heavens, somewhere out…there.
As I speak, it feels like my words are just hitting the ceiling.
I’m crying out to you day and night,
So why won’t you answer me?

I know you’re holy, you are bigger than me.
You are worshipped by millions of people around the world.
I remember all the Bible stories I heard in Sunday school,
About Joseph, Daniel, Job, and the others.
They cried out to you, and you brought them through.
They put their trust in you and you made good on your promise.

But how can I compete with them?
I’m nothing compared to those great men I have read about.
I don’t fit in, I don’t belong.
My own youth group doesn’t accept me.
Everyone at school makes fun of the fact that I’m a Christian.
They mock my faith in you, they mock your power,
And now I’m beginning to believe them.

I feel so hypocritical when I’m around them
Because I try to fit in.
It’s hard to tell how real my faith is sometimes.

You have been my God since I was born.
I’ve been going to church and Sunday school since I was in diapers.
I’ve grown up hearing about you,
But I guess I never really felt you
I never truly experienced you.

I don’t want you to be that far away ever again
Especially in this part of my life.
The guys at school just don’t know when to quit.
They keep pushing me around because I’m the little guy.
My friends have made stabbed me in the back.
People spread rumors about me.
They go out of their way to make my life miserable,
All because I’m a Christian.

I’m close to calling it quits. It doesn’t feel worth it anymore.
Please, just show me something, anything!
Let me know you’re here, with me, right now –
Not off somewhere out there.

I need you.

—————-
Now playing: The Decemberists – The Soldering Life
via FoxyTunes

The Poor in Spirit

“Though free from all sense of possessing, they yet possess all things. ‘Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'” – A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

____________

Jenny never really understood the point passing around those velvet-lined, gold-ish, fancy plates simply to collect the money people gave to the congregation. Something about it always made her uneasy, especially when she was the only one on the row who wasn’t reaching into her purse as soon as she passed the juice. She was only a poor high school student anyway. She gave to God in many other ways – time, energy, pretty much in any way that doesn’t cost money. College isn’t getting any cheaper. She has always justified herself by bargaining with God. She would promise to give way more than ten percent once she got a “big-girl” job if he would not hold her responsible until then. She was a pretty good Christian, after all.

She grew up in one of the larger congregations in town. There were many rich people that worshipped there on Sundays and Wednesdays, and she didn’t really know most of their names, but she at least recognized everyone.

There was an older man in the congregation, Mr. Taylor, who always went out of his way to talk with the teenagers in the youth group. They called him the Candy Man because he always passed out pieces of gum and hard candy. Everyone loved him, and he loved them more.

His dated suits, his rusted pick-up truck, and his less than impressive house led Jenny to assume that he didn’t have much cash to spare. He was left a widower fifteen years ago, and he had no children to take care of him, yet his face was always joyful, like he knew something others didn’t.

The next Sunday, Jenny noticed that Mr. Taylor wasn’t standing in the back handing out candy to the children as they entered. In fact, she didn’t see him anywhere. He had never missed a Sunday morning service since she had been alive. There was a certain darkened aura about the minister and the elders as they prepared to begin. One of the elders stepped up to the pulpit, quieted the assembly, and made the announcement…

Jenny couldn’t believe it. This man that had watched her grow up, who had given her countless pieces of candy and advice, who had become another grandfather to her left to be with Jesus.

Later that day as Jenny and her parents sat around the dinner table, they began talking about Mr. Taylor. Her parents had known him much longer than she had. They knew him personally for over twenty years, back when he was still the CEO of the large computer company in town. He made countless millions of dollars in his time, and gave away almost as much as he brought in.

Jenny’s mom, who was the treasurer for their congregation, told her that Mr. Taylor was the single greatest contributor to church every Sunday. He had funded hundreds of youth activities and had helped start several of the outreach ministries in which most of the members took part. Yet he never told anyone, except Jenny’s mom, about any of this. He made her promise to keep it anonymous when she first took over the treasury.

The funeral was a terribly sad, yet extremely joyful occasion. Nearly one thousand people crammed into the church auditorium to pay their respects to Mr. Taylor. Jenny overheard numerous conversations around her between people reliving their fondest memories of Mr. Taylor and telling how influence he had on their lives. Jenny simply sat quietly, tears rolling down her face.

The preacher gathered the crowd’s attention and began to speak of the great ways Mr. Taylor had helped shape countless lives by giving of himself. The preacher read a familiar verse from the Sermon on the Mount.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

_________________

The next Sunday after passing the juice, Jenny reached for her purse…

—————-
Now playing: Five For Fighting – Easy Tonight
via FoxyTunes

The Poor in Spirit

“Though free from all sense of possessing, they yet possess all things. ‘Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.'” – A. W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

____________

Jenny never really understood the point passing around those velvet-lined, gold-ish, fancy plates simply to collect the money people gave to the congregation. Something about it always made her uneasy, especially when she was the only one on the row who wasn’t reaching into her purse as soon as she passed the juice. She was only a poor high school student anyway. She gave to God in many other ways – time, energy, pretty much in any way that doesn’t cost money. College isn’t getting any cheaper. She has always justified herself by bargaining with God. She would promise to give way more than ten percent once she got a “big-girl” job if he would not hold her responsible until then. She was a pretty good Christian, after all.

She grew up in one of the larger congregations in town. There were many rich people that worshipped there on Sundays and Wednesdays, and she didn’t really know most of their names, but she at least recognized everyone.

There was an older man in the congregation, Mr. Taylor, who always went out of his way to talk with the teenagers in the youth group. They called him the Candy Man because he always passed out pieces of gum and hard candy. Everyone loved him, and he loved them more.

His dated suits, his rusted pick-up truck, and his less than impressive house led Jenny to assume that he didn’t have much cash to spare. He was left a widower fifteen years ago, and he had no children to take care of him, yet his face was always joyful, like he knew something others didn’t.

The next Sunday, Jenny noticed that Mr. Taylor wasn’t standing in the back handing out candy to the children as they entered. In fact, she didn’t see him anywhere. He had never missed a Sunday morning service since she had been alive. There was a certain darkened aura about the minister and the elders as they prepared to begin. One of the elders stepped up to the pulpit, quieted the assembly, and made the announcement…

Jenny couldn’t believe it. This man that had watched her grow up, who had given her countless pieces of candy and advice, who had become another grandfather to her left to be with Jesus.

Later that day as Jenny and her parents sat around the dinner table, they began talking about Mr. Taylor. Her parents had known him much longer than she had. They knew him personally for over twenty years, back when he was still the CEO of the large computer company in town. He made countless millions of dollars in his time, and gave away almost as much as he brought in.

Jenny’s mom, who was the treasurer for their congregation, told her that Mr. Taylor was the single greatest contributor to church every Sunday. He had funded hundreds of youth activities and had helped start several of the outreach ministries in which most of the members took part. Yet he never told anyone, except Jenny’s mom, about any of this. He made her promise to keep it anonymous when she first took over the treasury.

The funeral was a terribly sad, yet extremely joyful occasion. Nearly one thousand people crammed into the church auditorium to pay their respects to Mr. Taylor. Jenny overheard numerous conversations around her between people reliving their fondest memories of Mr. Taylor and telling how influence he had on their lives. Jenny simply sat quietly, tears rolling down her face.

The preacher gathered the crowd’s attention and began to speak of the great ways Mr. Taylor had helped shape countless lives by giving of himself. The preacher read a familiar verse from the Sermon on the Mount.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

_________________

The next Sunday after passing the juice, Jenny reached for her purse…

—————-
Now playing: Five For Fighting – Easy Tonight
via FoxyTunes