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March 24, 2013

Three months down, twenty-one to go.  Hmm, that makes it sound like I’m really looking forward to the end.  And yet, while at times that’s very true, I have to admit that I have thoroughly enjoyed this adventure.  When I say enjoy though I don’t mean that it’s been three months of blissful, spiritual ecstasy.  That would certainly be an overstatement.  Don’t get me wrong, I have had countless moments of intense, heart wrenching encounters with God since I began, but lest we forget: with growth comes pain.

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            Through this experience I’m finding more and more that as I grow and increase in Him, naturally I must decrease in everything else.  I won’t pretend like that’s not difficult because most often it’s quite bitter.  But that fleeting discomfort that I face is but a speck when compared to the empty, desperate feeling I get when I try to ignore or tailor what God is saying to make me more comfortable, whether I initially intend to or not.  If you’ve never felt that I can only describe it as agonizing, like being hungry and thirsty and having no food or water.

When I’m in the midst of this desert all I can think about is getting back to His heart and drinking in His love.  If at no other time, it’s then that I can more fully experience the vast importance of living every moment of my life in accordance with Him.  We know that He will never lead us astray, so why do we fight it?  Why do I constantly feel the need to validate myself with material things and the opinions of other broken people?  It’s disgusting when I say it out loud but if you think about it, you’re guilty too.

Maybe it seems extreme to think about angling every last facet of your life to point at Him but… what else is there?  Outside of Him, what’s left?  What else can possibly satisfy the yearning of my soul?  I urge you not to be apprehensive of delving deeper into His heart.  Don’t fear sacrifice and obedience!  Sure it’s uncomfortable at times but I promise, with everything in me, that it’s worth it.  You’ll be completely blown away at how much you realize that you don’t need the petty things that you so dearly hold close.

I wouldn’t be nearly so adamant about what I’m saying if I hadn’t failed over and over myself.  I understand failure quite well and because of that I’ve experienced even more of His love and mercy and if that’s what’s holding you back then I encourage you to go read February’s post.

So press in, dig deep, and don’t give up!  He’s on your side and He wants to be discovered!  He wants to hold your heart in His hands and heal the broken areas of your life!  He wants you to fall in love and choose Him!  In 2 Chronicles 7 God told the Israelites that if they would humble themselves and pray then He would hear them, forgive them, and heal them.  I submit to you that His heart is the same today as it was in that day, with those people.  Humble yourselves and present your broken lives before Him.  He is a God who will not tolerate pride but whose heart melts in the midst of humility.  He truly does love you, no matter where you’re at in life.  His arms are open, what are you waiting for?

Because of Him,

Brent Hemphill

P.S.

If you’re just now joining my journey then please know that I will not be on Facebook during my time of consecration so any messages or requests you may have sent will not be responded to for quite some time.  It’s not personal, it’s Jesus.

March 7, 2013

Let me take you back three and a half years to my first School of Christian Ministry Outing.  We went canoeing, played capture the flag, ate Dr. Luper’s superbly grilled hotdogs and hamburgers, and then we listened to Dr. Ellington give a short message.

He preached something I will never forget.  It’s ok to fail.  He said they expected us to fail at some point.  In fact, he even encouraged us to fail.  Not in a villainous, diabolical sense, of course.  His angle was that some of the most valuable lessons we will ever learn would come out of our failures.  He, of course, along with all of our professors, deeply desires to see his students succeed.  But Paul tells us in Romans 8:28 “…that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…” He works with our failures and He uses them for our good.  And, because we are created to bring Him glory, by working with our failures and making something beautiful out of them He is glorifying Himself that much more.  And is He not worthy of all glory and honor?

Instead, we throw ourselves in a ditch and cover our shame with the mud around us.  Our highly Greek-influenced minds tell us that we must right our wrongs, eye-for-an-eye.  Even Jesus corrected what the Old Testament taught about eye-for-an-eye justice.  Dr. Moon says that Israel was very much under a “Tit-for-tat Theology” with God in Deuteronomy.  This meaning that if they sinned then they were cursed and if they were godly, they were blessed.  And since we can’t pay for most of our failures we sentence ourselves to internal death, living in depression, and wishing we were better people.

That is what has stuck in the mind of humanity for a long, long time.  But is that what God thinks?  If He does then I have completely misunderstood the purpose of Christ’s disgusting, beautiful death and resurrection.

I say this to fulfill what I believe is the purpose of this blog, or at least in part.  That purpose is accountability.  Am I living what I say?  Well, I suppose that depends on your perspective.  To put it plainly, I’ve failed.  There are guidelines in my first blog that have been broken.  Now your first thought might be,  “Well, that didn’t last long.  Time to pack it up and go home.”

But really?

That’s it?

No, no, no.  Let’s look again at what has occurred.  The title of this blog is “Nazirite Journey.”  That’s right, it’s a journey.  I may have taken a wrong turn along the way but does that mean that I simply turn around and go home, back where I started?  Not at all.  I don’t stay lost either though.  It’s during these times that you get your map, figure out where you are and get back on the path.  I’m going somewhere and there is no way I’m stopping until I finish what God has set before me.  I will reach my destination and I certainly won’t let me stop… me.

Now what does that look like through a spiritual lens?  To fail, as I have done, is equal to sin.  But that’s ok because, and only because, of who my Father is and what He has done for me.  Jesus’ death has paid for my sin.  My selfish decisions cost Him everything.  But it’s because of His love that He died.  And His word says that love covers a multitude of sin.  The blood He willingly gave has covered our sin and made us whole.  We are like new.  Like a toy still in the package, never played with, never damaged.

So why don’t we act like it?

Was His sacrifice not good enough?

I encourage you, if you’re like me and have fallen short of His glory, pick yourself up and dust yourself off because Dr. Ellington was right, it’s ok to fail.  Jesus has already paid the high price of your decisions and His arms are wide open.  You are the only one who is holding you back.  You’re the only one that sees a failure in the mirror.  He simply sees a dirty traveler, far from home; on a perilous journey looking for the one you love.  He sees and is so proud that you have stepped out your front door, much like Bilbo Baggins, and have pursued that which you cannot see.

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May He lead you to His heart and guide your steps.  And most importantly, keep your head up and your heart focused.  The enemy would like nothing more than to keep you in the mud.

 

Because of Him,

Brent Hemphill

 

P.S.

If you’re just now joining my journey then please know that I will not be on Facebook during my time of consecration so any messages or requests you may have sent will not be responded to for quite some time.  It’s not personal, it’s Jesus.

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