Nestle Back Into Jesus’ Rhythm

Right now, I’m really loving the little “Our Daily Bread” devotionals. The little devotional bit is generally pretty good and the varied Bible passages that go along with it are the best.

In today’s:

If you find that Christianity exhausts you, draining you of your energy, then you are practicing religion rather than enjoying a relationship with Jesus Christ. Your walk with the Lord will not make you weary; it will invigorate you, restore your strength, and energize your life.

And the passage today was Matthew 11:25-30. This week has been turning into a bit of a frenzy for me, and of course, this is exactly what I needed. Jesus said his yoke is easy, and his burden is light. So that means when I feel like the burden is heavy, I’ve stopped sharing the yoke with him, or am trying to move out of his rhythm.

If you’re familiar with the yoke, it’s a ridged piece of wood that sits on top of the shoulders of two oxen side by side. It’s easy to imagine how difficult it would be if one of the oxen was trying to move faster or a different direction. So difficult that it’s impossible. I like to think God’s grace works that way. I share a yoke with Jesus, and he’ll not let me get too far ahead or break off to the side… Instead, life just gets difficult, and he bares as much of the burden when I’m fighting him as I do. Maybe more.

The best and easiest thing is to nestle back into Jesus’ rhythm. It doesn’t mean the work is over, but that it’s light and easy, and most importantly, I can bare it. So that’s what I’m going for today. 

There’s more good stuff along those lines in the ODB for today, so feel free to read it if you need the same encouragement.

Psalm 51, the CR Psalm

Happy hump day team. :)

My quiet time brought me to Psalm 51 this morning, and I think it’s possible this is the most CR passage in the Bible and covers just about all 12 steps. Well maybe not the most, but it’s amazing to read the words of a powerful warrior king, out of denial, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.”

Granted, he had just been caught in a terrible scandal, cheating with Bathsheba, & eventually killing her husband to cover up the result of his sin, her pregnancy. This is the same David, the “man after God’s own heart”. Ouch. 

I also have prayed verse 10 so many times in my life, “thanks” to my struggle with sexual addiction. And I believe that he has restored my heart — to a degree where verses 13-15 are where I’m trying to live now. And if I ever relapse (please God forbid), verse 10 is where I’ll be again. 

And he finishes the thought with “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” – Psalm 51:16-17 NIV

I’m so grateful that we serve a God of grace. Even in the Old Testament, with the Law, He desired our humility and contrite hearts (James 4:6/Proverbs 3:34) over our sacrifices. 

Check out Psalm 51 if you haven’t read it in a while. 

Don’t give up

This morning’s “Our Daily Bread” really hit me, and I wanted to share the encouragement with you. You can read it here.

The passage is Galatians 6:1-10, and verse 9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

It’s so easy to get weary, because we’re humans, and us humans are messy. And at CR, we go so far as to say, let’s remove the mask that covers the mess… So, what i’m trying to say is, CR can and will be extra messy, but it’s that mess that Jesus takes, cleans up, and turns into a shining masterpiece only possible by his craftsmanship. If we don’t give up, we’ll see a harvest being reaped which was fertilized by the … ahem… manure… which is our messes. I love you guys, and I’m excited for the future, and I hope you are too.

Connecticut Shooting

I just read the news of the Shooting in Connecticut with tear-filled eyes. I’m generally (sadly) callous to these types of tragedies, but with two little girls, I have a whole new paradigm. I just keep thinking of the little kids who had to witness that. How will they cope? How will their parents cope? How will the rest of us respond? With so many recent shootings, I’m starting to wonder if there’s some validity to these cries for gun control. Will that help curb some of these public (and private) shootings? Maybe. Will it provide a guarantee that a mentally unstable person won’t walk into my children’s school and start shooting. No… there are no guarantees in life except eventual death.

Because of that reality, and this sad reminder of our frailty as human beings, I cling to my faith. In times where the question “Why?” cannot be answered, I know that there’s a bigger plan, and that ultimately, no matter what happens with me — or at my daughter’s school — that there is a God that loves me and has a larger plan than I can imagine. That’s also why I have the scripture reference “Rom. 8:28” tattooed on my arm.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose..”


I’m writing this post with the intent of explaining why I’m writing this blog. It may turn out long, so bear with me. I’ve been wanting to write about my faith walk for quite some time now. The idea began sometime in the last half of last year (2011) when during conversations with a good friend and accountability parter, I came to realize my faith was becoming stale. James stated in the Bible that (while not necessary for salvation) faith without works is dead… I always took that to mean something more like “if you’re not doing some work, than you’re dead to me,” kind of thing. During that conversation though, I realized that what I want out of my faith is LIFE, rather than stale faith-for-faith’s sake. That verse was stating a fact more than a threat. My friend recommended I start to blog, because I work on the web, and work with WordPress all day long. It would be a natural and “easy” way to start “giving back.”

That terminology I picked up while being involved in “Celebrate Recovery,” an awesome ministry that helps those with “hurts, habits, & hangups” find healing and recovery in a safe and loving environment. That sounds like marketing hype, but from my experience, it was fact, and I miss it a ton (the reasons I’m no longer able to be involved in that ministry deserve a few other blog posts). I originally joined that ministry to “help out” and “share my experience” with addiction, but like most who join for that reason, quickly discovered the teaching, system, people and environment were designed and created just for me (or that’s how it feels). There’s something incredibly freeing about sitting around a circle with people who have things much worse than you, (and some better) and talking about your journey.. the good, the bad, the ugly.. everything. Just being able to be honest, and for one or two nights a week, being able to put down the mask that we so diligently maintain for the world to know who we “are.”  I like to think that during my time in that ministry that I learned how to put down my mask most of the time, or at the very least maintain a mask that more closely resembles who I really am.  I could really go on for books about the impact, and benefits of my time with Celebrate Recovery, but that’s not what this post is about… At least not entirely.

So, the relevance. The 12th step in the 12 step Celebrate Recovery system (heavily borrowed from the AA 12 steps) is that when you have gained some level of recovery, it is time to “give back.”  This can translate to nearly anything, but the idea simplified is that your recovery is maintained through a consistent sharing of what works for you to others. This serves as an encouragement to you (because you being able to help others is a way to redeem your past hurts), an encouragement to others (somebody cares/understands/has been there, etc), and is an ingenious way to keep you on a good track. It just works. Except when it doesn’t, because you don’t.

And that’s where I find myself..

So what is prompting me to finally get off of my proverbial ass, and start writing this blog?

I recently read an amazing and well written testimony by an atheist. In the environment I grew up in (the church world), testimony has an extremely churchy sound, but it’s simply a telling of one’s beliefs through his/her story. I’ve been reading a book called “Generation: Ex-Christian,”1 and its premise is to educate believers about why some “believers” have left the faith. Again, my opinion about the book deserves another blog post, but my interest in the last year towards atheists (I DON’T believe), agnostics (I don’t CARE to believe), and leavers (I’m DONE with church) has really increased. It directly corresponds to making the move about a year ago from being involved in a lot of ministry roles, to now being 100% immersed in an analytically heavy technical world. Celebrate Recovery and church in general have given me a ton of tools, but very few to help me deal with these issues. All that to say, I wanted to read Mark Jaquith’s2 post about how he came to be an atheist after growing up in church, so that I could hear a real, first-hand experience. To be absolutely transparent, it rocked my world, and shook my faith. He asks some very hard-hitting questions, and is speaking from an honest first-hand viewpoint, not some book-level argument for why evolution exists, etc. He lays out some of the questions that he presented to God & others that he was never given satisfactory answers for, and a few are the same questions I’ve received unsatisfactory answers for my whole life growing up in church.

So what does that have to with this blog, and this post?  I wrestled with some doubts and questions for a couple days (still am to some degree), and half-expected God to form a message in the sky that resembled something like, “I love you, and here’s all the answers to your questions.. Don’t listen to that jerk.” But as is a common theme in the Bible, and in other believer’s testimonies, God rarely (if ever) responds to our doubts, fears, demands, etc the way we want or expect. So what I wanted was answers.

What I got was overwhelming realization that my faith was dying.

Wow, crazy scary words to admit for me a believer who has grown up in church my whole life, participated in all kinds of ministries, and seen so many lives changed in incredible (and yes, even miraculous) ways. It hit me like a pretty hefty bag of bricks while talking with that same friend/accountability partner some six months later that my faith was dying because I wasn’t DOING anything about it. There was no “giving back.” No “letting my light shine.” So it was then that I resolved to do something about it, and it wasn’t even a week later that it became obvious that this blog was one of the things I needed to do.

So this post is most definitely not a “response” of any kind to Mark’s post, and I hope any who are reading this, who have also read his don’t think that.  This is just the first step of what I plan on being a very long walk.  Will I write a response to Mark’s post? Maybe.. (I have a whole blog to fill) but it won’t be a typical response post.. It will be me on my own “working out my salvation with fear and trembling.”3

So that’s the theme. I’ll be writing about my journey.. the good, the bad, the ugly, and often, the very personal.

So please be gentle. :)

Links and Resources

  1. I recommend this book, if for no other reason, to gain more empathy for why people leave the church.
  2. (Warning: this post WILL shake your faith. Decide for yourself it that is a good or a bad thing.)