God belongs in every area of our lives

Pants are important. Nearly everyone wears them. But what would happen if one day you encountered someone at your office who wasn’t wearing any. No slacks or jeans or shorts. Not a skirt even. Nothing.

And when you ask why they’re running around with no pants on, they tell you that they just don’t think wearing pants at work is a good idea. Now, pants at home are good. Pants at church are fine. But pants at work? Not so much.

You’d probably think they were nuts, right? I would.

That’s a silly illustration, but if you think about it, it’s not much sillier than how we behave when we compartmentalize our lives as Christ-followers.

compartmentalizeToday’s verses are Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Deuteronomy is a book of repetition. God says a lot of the same things over and over again, and it’s a good thing to. I mean we get tired of reading them over and over again, but the more you hear them, the less likely you are to forget them.

I didn’t used to understand this passage. What did it mean to wear God’s commands on your hands and on your foreheads? I mean, I understand the Jewish tradition, but what does it mean for a Christ-follower?

I mean, if you want to write God’s commands on your hands and on your foreheads, that’s fine. It won’t hurt anything. But practically speaking, how do you apply this passage to your life?

It’s actually really simple. Not easy. But it’s simple.

It means to be fully committed to God in every single thing you do every day. When you go to work, you should be focused on what God has for you. When you are at home, you should be doing what God has told you to do. When you go to church, to the voting booth, to school, on vacation, to the grocery store–whatever you do, wherever you go, if you are a Christ-follower, you should be doing what God has told you to do. You should be keeping His commandments.

Compartmentalizing life is an essential skill in many ways. You have to be able to leave work at work. You have to be able to segment your life in ways that allow you to organize it.

But God should never be compartmentalized. Don’t ever try to put God in a box. He doesn’t fit.

If you try to follow God in part of your life and then live the rest of your life however you want it, you aren’t going to have peace. Having a relationship with God was never intended to be part-time. You shouldn’t just keep God housed in your church or just in your home. God should be an integral part of every decision you make, from the big decisions about where to live and what to do with your life to the small decisions about what classes to take or whether or not to go see a movie on Friday night.

Just like there’s no question too big for Him, there’s no question too small either. Don’t cut God out of a part of your life because you think He doesn’t care. That’s not the case. Don’t ignore Him in a part of your life because you’d rather do it your own way. Believe me, it won’t work out.

It’s a strange habit to get into, asking God about what decision to make or comparing the choices you’re making to what the Bible says, but it works. We just have to take God at His word.

So bring down the walls that are keeping God out of the corners of your life. Open the shutters on the dark spots and let God’s light shine through you completely. It won’t be comfortable. He’ll definitely illuminate some things that need to change, but He’ll also give you the strength to do what you need to do.

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Stop sign at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

Do you really want God in a box?

I want God to tell me what He’s up to. Is that too much to ask? I say that with a bit of humor because as much as I want to know what He’s up to, at the same time I know that if He tells me, my brain will probably explode. Either that or I’ll be so scared I won’t be able to take another step. There’s a reason He doesn’t tell us all His plans.

But it’s been one of those weeks where so much has happened, so much has gone wrong, so many emotions have spilled over, and I know without a doubt that God is doing something. He’s getting me ready for something that’s coming, and I’m trying to keep my eyes on that. But in some ways I feel like I’m tripping around in the dark, and it’s all I can do to just hold on and wait until God switches the lights on so I can see which bumps and bruises need bandages.

Stop sign at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

Stop sign at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Numbers 23:19.

God is not a man, so he does not lie.
    He is not human, so he does not change his mind.
Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
    Has he ever promised and not carried it through?

Numbers isn’t usually a book in Scripture I turn to for comfort. But there’s a little story nestled toward the back of it about a man named Balaam. You might recognize his name. He’s the one with the donkey who decided to start speaking? It’s a cool story, found in Numbers 22:21-41. But Numbers 23 contains the message that Balaam brought to Balak, King of Moab. And this is part of that message that Balaam brought from God.

How many times do we think we understand what God is up to only to grow frustrated and discouraged when life doesn’t work out the way we planned? I do it a lot. I look at a situation and am pretty sure I can see how God is working, and then the floor falls out from under me. And at that point I have two choices: I can either get upset that God didn’t work the plan out the way I thought He would … or I can realize that my understanding of God’s plans is imperfect.

We try to understand God on human terms. Why? Because we’re human. How else are we capable of understanding anything? We think we understand nature and the universe and all of that, but all we’ve done is plucked it out of the sky and shoved it into a box big enough for us to wrap our head around. That doesn’t mean we understand it. That just means we’ve simplified it to the point where we can grasp it. And then everyone freaks out when nature or the universe ends up being more complicated than we thought.

Of course, it’s more complicated than we thought. It’s bigger than we can imagine. It’s more intricate than we can comprehend. What makes us think we’re capable of grasping it?

It’s the same way with God.

Like when people try to explain the Trinity using an egg or a glass of water. Those are human items that a human can wrap his head around, representing a relationship that a human can explain. But nothing on a scale that a human can understand will ever be able to explain the Trinity. Nothing on a human level will ever be able to understand God.

God is not human.

Now, Jesus was. So He understands us. But He was also God and Man at the same time. How’s that for blowing your puny little mind?

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try to understand God. Part of getting to know someone is learning how they think, and God wants us to get to know Him. But I really believe there needs to be an understanding on our part that God isn’t limited by the bounds of our imaginations. He isn’t limited by our grasp of the universe or by our level of understanding. If He chooses to act in a way that we don’t understand, He can. Because He’s God.

But looking back over the events of my life, I can tell you for certain that God has never done anything in my life that He hasn’t prepared me for in some way. Hindsight is 20/20. Looking back I can see how He prepared me beforehand to deal with the troubles and trials He knew were coming ahead of me. God has never made a promise He hasn’t kept to me, even though He didn’t exactly fulfill those promises in the way I expected Him to.

So the next time you catch yourself trying to put God in a box so you can understand how He works? Stop. Stop and really think about it. Because you don’t really want God in a box. Because if He’s small enough to fit in a box you can understand, He’s too small to handle the problems you’re facing.

Moon with no detail

Imagine the impossible

What would it have been like to live in the Middle Ages? When there was no education and very little accurate knowledge? Even the sciences of the time were less like science and more like something out of a fairy tale, which is probably why the mortality rate was so high. I have always found it fascinating as I’ve studied history that Man seems to lay out all the possibilities on the table and tell God what He is capable of doing.
 
That hasn’t changed, not in the thousands of years of human history. Even today, we present our meager understanding of the origins of the universe, displaying our knowledge like a trophy, and shove it in God’s face, telling Him that there is only one way He could have created everything. Because there’s only one way we can understand it.
 
But is God truly limited by our understanding?
 
Moon with no detail

Moon with no detail - Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Ephesians 3:20.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

I have a really crazy imagination. It’s always going at full speed. It never slows down, and I’m rarely ever bored because my head is always thinking up random things. But as crazy and vivid as my imagination is, even I tend to put God in a box.

I look at the aspects of my life and my talents and my situation and my circumstances, and I tell God what He can and can’t do with me. Is that right? Is God stuck with me, with someone who can’t succeed at the one thing she’s tried to accomplish all her life? And if I don’t understand why I can’t accomplish my g0als, does that mean I’ll never accomplish them?

Of course not.

I think we try to put God in a box because it makes us feel like we’re in control. It makes us feel like we’ve got a handle on our situation. It’s an illusion if we feel that way, because we don’t have control over anything. And the truth is, if God wants to do something miraculous in our lives, He’ll do it, whether we understand it or not.

I went outside last night and took pictures of the full moon. I’m still pretty new with photography so I couldn’t get my settings right to take a picture of the Moon with details. It was super clear, but the only shots I could get painted it as a ball of light in a black sky. And even after I’d tried over and over again, I kept getting the same image. And by that time, my hands were numb and there was something wandering around in the orchard that wasn’t a cat, and I didn’t much feel like getting sprayed by the skunks that have been hanging out on my property. So I went inside.

But even our understanding of the Moon changed when we got close to it. People used to think it was made of cheese. People used to think it had lakes. People used to think all sorts of crazy things. And then we got up there, and although it’s spectacular, not much of what anyone expected was true. And it even has a side that no one can see.

I’m not saying it’s wrong to postulate things that could be or might be. But maybe we shouldn’t be so certain about things in our lives that we can’t predict. Maybe we shouldn’t be so sure that we know what God is going to do with our lives because honestly I don’t think we do. I think it’s a dangerous game to be playing when you think you can understand the immensity of what God can accomplish through us.

Nothing is impossible with God. So why don’t we imagine the impossible instead of what we think we are capable of?