I am a Control Freak

For those of you who know me, you may not think that I am a control freak, but I am.  I tend to be rather easy-going and flexible.  I can roll with the punches.  I am resilient and versatile.  and I am a control freak.

God has recently been shedding light on my desires for control.  Some people try to have control on projects, on their household, or on their relationships; I have a tendency to keep trying to vie for control of my salvation.  I want to control my life.

Explicitly, I know that this is not a healthy mindset to have.  Implicitly, however, I see myself working hard to be able to control my future.  I kept trying to plan my life, and take control of everything that is going on instead of relinquishing control, and letting God (who knows much better than I do how to control my life effectively) have control of my life.  A few months ago, I resolved to make it happen…

Yup, that’s right.  I decided that I would take control of letting God have control…  Over the last few weeks, God has been teaching me just how stupid that sounds.

Our church is working through Ephesians so a few weeks ago, our pastor preached on Ephesians 3.

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

– Ephesian 3:14-21 NIV

It was a great message, but I didn’t feel that it was talking about my subtle appetite to have control.  I continued to try to give God control by reading my Bible more and listening to Podcasts.

A week and a half later I was out for a run, listening to a Podcast by Tim Keller on the Glory of God.  A great sermon based on this passage (among others) in Ephesians:

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

– Ephesian 3:14-21 ESV

Amen, God is great and glorious, and we can He can do even more than what we ask of Him when we pray.  He is a great God.

I worked really hard to give God control of my life.  I deleted the games from my phone and spent the time on the toilet praying instead of playing.  I made a point to talk to people about “spiritual stuff” so that I could be trying to think about God more.

A few days later I was reading my bible and read a passage that seemed a little familiar.

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

– Ephesian 3:14-21 NKJV

And then this week, I listened to a Podcast by Francis Chan and he spend a lot of his time on this passage:

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

– Ephesian 3:14-21 ESV

Sometimes, God speaks to you to answer your prayers and we ignore what He is trying to say.  The great thing is that God is  in control.  He had a message to get across to me, and he Got it across.

I may have decided that I was going to give God control, but I was still keeping control of how I gave him control.  I tried to learn his will, but instead of letting the Master teach me, I kept trying to teach myself.

The biggest take away from Ephesians 3 that I needed to hear was in verse 16; it was not up to me to try harder to be better.  We give God control, not by trying harder, but allowing Christ to grant us the strength when we are filled with the Holy Spirit!  It is only through the Holy Spirit that we will every understand His will for us.  No amount of trying will ever get you there.

God is Always There

The coolest thing about our God is that He is always there, and He is NOT dependent upon me for any of it. Seriously, I had this seemly silly realization this week: God is like the best friend who I can pick up a relationship with, no matter when we had last talked! I love my earthly best friend, and I love that our relationship doesn’t change even we haven’t talked for days, weeks, or months. The greatest thing is that the relationship we have with God is even more awesome than our best friend relationships! God and I can pick up our conversation and relationship if it has been minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, etc, and THAT IS SO AWESOME!

Now, you may think that this is not that big of a relationship, but let me give you the backstory to this realization. I have been in a bit of a bible-drought lately, and it hasn’t felt too good to be out of communication with my Heavenly Father. This past week, I finally got back into the Word and it felt great! God met me again in His word even though we hadn’t talked in a while.

I started reading the Psalms and in Matthew. Personally, I like to read something from both each day, but I read as little or as much as I want to. Some days, I still don’t open my bible and I am praying that the Lord draws me so close to Him that I go running to His Word like I run to my best friends or husband. Other days, I just get in a chapter or two, and feel satisfied to hear His word to start my day. When my day goes how I have planned it, I read a few psalms and a few chapters in the Gospel, while also taking time to intentionally pray with scripture. The best thing is that no matter when, where, or for however long I’m in the Word, HE MEETS ME THERE. I don’t have to bring perfect theology, hours of time, or even a settled heart to feel His love and be sustained through His word.

So go there. Be in His word. See Him. And feel your heart drawn to the one who has made ALL things possible.

Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous be shaken. – Psalm 55:22

PS Remember, we are righteous when we put our trust in Jesus, and then His righteousness extends to us! (2 Corinthians 5:21 says “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God”). It can be a confusing idea, but I’d love to articulate what I am learning if you are curious. Just send a comment or message my way!

 

Fathers Stubborn Gifts

So, if you didn’t know, last Sunday was fathers day (its okay if you need to stop reading and apologetically call your father).  My dad is pretty great.  Don’t get me wrong, he has his faults, but I love my dad.  There is one thing that I cannot get passed, however.   Every chance he gets, he keeps giving me money.  He wouldn’t let me pay to fix my own car, or leave last time I saw him until I took some gas money.  Even though it sometimes frustrates me, I still love my Dad and appreciate that he cares for me and Amanda in this way.

I think that is just what fathers do.  They stubbornly care for their children whether they like it or not.  Different fathers do that differently, some are better at it than others, but it is inherently a father thing.

I was recently reading in 1 Peter and was reminded that God, our father, cares for us in much the same way (thus why I chose to write about this today).

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

– 1 Peter 5:6–7

There are many other places in the Bible where God is talked about as father and where we are reminded that God cares for us but I find it interesting the context to which we are reminded that God cares for us in this passage.   Peter draws a direct implication from the fact that God cares for us: we can cast all of our anxieties on him.

If you are a grammar nerd, you know I did not draw a great conclusion from that sentence there.  The real message is so much deeper and impactful.  It says that because God cares for us, we should humble ourselves under His authority by throwing off our anxieties, and letting God care for them.

God cares for us so much that He is trying to give us this great relief from anxiety.  My natural reaction is to be frustrated and try to handle my expenses myself.  If I were to set aside my pride and be humble (as God has called us to be) I should (and you should too) gratefully except the gifts that my Father has given me.

The Enemy Uses Facebook

I realize that lent is well past over, but I wanted to write about my experience a couple months ago. During this past Lenten season, I finally committed to doing my first fast, and I chose Facebook. I learned one thing quickly: Facebook was only a means to an end, and there were a lot of things that acted as “Facebook” throughout my day. Removing the app from my phone and blocking the site on my computer did not stop my heart from acting out. Don’t worry, I’ll explain a bit more.

I learned that I went to Facebook when I was bored, overwhelmed, tired, or when I wanted an escape from the world. My goal with my fast was to force myself to dwell on the Lord instead of turning towards my favorite social media because I wanted to improve my relationship with the Lord and help myself get my life into perspective. Sadly, once I stopped turning to Facebook, I found other things. I quickly realized what I was doing and I took steps to remove that distraction. I had to say no to Pinterest, Reddit, games on my phone, my calendar, email, messengers, etc. There was always SOMEWHERE I could look to try to find entertainment and I hate it! I couldn’t just sit quietly without something to occupy myself. I’d even just scroll through the screens on my phone! Apparently, it wasn’t just Facebook that the enemy was using to keep my eyes from the Lord, but it was more than that.

After 40 days of not checking Facebook (and I didn’t even cheat on Sundays, which apparently some people do), I learned one big thing: there is always something that is pulling my attention away from the Lord, and I have to fight really hard to keep my focus on Him. We entitled our blog “On Things Above Us” because we want to be putting our mind on things above, just like we are called to do in Colossians 3:1-2. This is really hard to do. But we are told to do this, so we need to do whatever it takes to keep our hearts and minds in the right place. For me, I’m limiting my social media use more. I did it for 40 days, and the addiction didn’t seem as strong for a bit, but after a while, I felt myself being lured back to Facebook. The Lord gives help and grace to those who trust in Him, and so I trust that He will help me fight this temptation and keep my eyes on Him.

Time Together

I have been working at my new job for a few weeks now.  Everything is alright there but it is not without its sacrifices.  Because Amanda and I are both working extended hours and are not home at the same time very often, we do not get to spend much quality time together.   Even when we do have a little time at night, the time is usually spent preparing for the next day, cleaning the house, or something else that seems like it needs to get done.

By the time the weekend comes it is not uncommon to be craving spending time together.  This may look like going to the grocery store together, watching netflix, or even sitting together doing our work.

On my drive in to work this morning I was pondering why we don’t treat God this way?  I mean, we* are pretty good at the first part, filling our schedules so that we have little time to spend with Him, but do not crave that time when it does become available.  In fact the times that I do find myself craving time with God are few and far between, and it takes a lot more than a long week of work to make me crave Him.

I think that in my case this is likely because of the way that I am tempted to see spending time with God.  If you look at my to-do list or at my calendar you might see “read bible” or “devotionals” or some other code-word for “spend time with God at this time of the day.”  If I only spent time with Amanda when it was in my schedule, I doubt that she would be satisfied with what this says about my priorities and God deserves even more.  God is relational, and our relationship with him should be (and often isn’t) on the top of our priority lists.

In the coming weeks, I hope to expound on this topic a little bit more because it has been something that has really affected my walk with Christ and my marriage.  I will have other posts interspersed, but I want to spend some time diving deeper into what God has to say and the practical implications of treating Him relationally as opposed to treating him like a task to accomplish and giving that relationship the highest priority, end long run-on sentence.

As always, I encourage you to be part of the conversation by commenting below and sharing your thoughts.

 

 

*When I say “we” I mean here people, in general, but mostly me.

 

It is God who redeems

Accountability. I need it. One great thing about this blog is that I am accountable for my quiet time with my Bible. How can I be writing in a blog that focuses on Him without spending time to focus on Him? Clearly, the answer is that I can’t, and so here we go!

This first thought comes from my reading in Psalm 26:11, which reads, “I lead a blameless life; redeem me and be merciful to me”. Throughout Psalm 26, David  basically is saying ‘Hey God, I’m doing good stuff and living a good life that brings you worship’, but at the end, he threw in this little gem that stuck with me! David could DO a lot of different things (i.e. not sitting with bad men and not consorting with hypocrites (v.4), washing his hands in innocence (v.5), etc.), but he knew that it is God who redeems him. AND David needed God’s mercy in the end because his life wasn’t actually that blameless!

Now, this doesn’t mean we should stop trying to lead a blameless life, but it is a reminder as to who is the one doing the saving at the end of the day. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). I think David got this point, even though he didn’t know the end of the story. On the cross, Jesus died the death that we should have died to give us the life that we don’t deserve. It is that sacrifice and gift that brings us redemption, mercy, grace, and eternal life with our God, not any of the works we try to do. This is a great thing, because my works will never be good enough, but Jesus’ sacrifice is always enough and His righteousness always meets the mark!

Getting Started

I am excited to get things started!  If you have not already guessed it, Thursday’s will be the day for Dan-updates and thoughts and you can check for what Amanda is writing on Mondays.  If you have not already, feel free to check out the rest of this site to see more of our thoughts on what  our plans are and what is going on in our lives.  I highly encourage (and in fact implore you) to engage with us through this medium.  Comment on*, like* and follow* this blog, talk to us about the things that we wrote, share scripture, and engage!  Life is not meant to be  lived on an island together.  It is meant to be lived together, growing toward Christ together.

Wondering what we are going to specifically write about?  Me too.  At this point I have several ideas as to how I am going to structure what I am going to write and the topics that guide it.

Some of you may have been following my previous site and know that I often will post theological ideas, truths that God is teaching me, and songs that have been meaningful or impact.  I plan to continue to do some of those things, but also have a focus in many/most of my writings on marriage and relationships.  As this site will be populated by Amanda’s thoughts as well I am sure that you can look forward to hearing both of our conclusions and thoughts on some issues, and have an interesting perspective into our lives!

Intermixed with each of our posts you will also find life updates that will hopefully keep you up to date on the goings-ons in our lives.

I apologize if some or all of this is reiterated from Amanda’s post on Monday, but hopefully you will forgive the overlap.  I promise that there will not be this much repetition every week.

*Just so you are aware, I do not frequent facebook.  While you are welcome to like, follow, and comment on Facebook, I am less likely to see it than if you were to do those things here on this blog.

Ready to go!

We are ready to launch! For the past several months, Dan and I have been saying that we are going to start a blog together! There is no better time than right now!

Through this blog, we will have weekly posts from both of us (I’ll be posting on Mondays), and we will have a space to share life updates with friends, family, and strangers. Why are we doing this? Well, we feel like the Lord has been working amazing works in our lives, and we hope that by sharing them, more people can know and love Him!

I’m ready for this challenge of blog writing. I’ve never been very good at sticking with it, but I’m not going to quit. Writing is good for my soul, and I want to be challenged to articulate my thoughts so that what is happening in my heart and life can benefit others. Be prepared to have a lot of rambles and almost-too-long posts from me because that is how I work. I write out a thought, and then re-write it to make sure I’m saying what I want to say! But I will do my best to be concise 🙂

I’m ready to be accountable. I’ll share more about this in my first post, but basically, I need to know that someone is going to be checking in to see where my heart is, and because of that, I need to be taking care of my heart. I need to be saturating myself in the Word. I need to be praying fervently. And I need to be listening to Him throughout all of this. I’m ready.

Thank you for following us. Thank you for praying for us. And thank you for joining us along our journey to know and love our Creator more deeply each day.