3 Pitfalls of Holy Living


I grew up within the context of a “Holiness Tradition”.  If you have grown up in this too, perhaps you will understand the importance of sanctification.  This is the second blessing – the Holy Spirit’s anointing and subsequent cleansing of the soul.  Holiness is the willful acceptance of the Holy Spirit’s prodding to become who we were intended to be.  It is the act of complete surrender which leads us on the path of reflecting Christ in every fiber of our being.  It is the beginning point of surrendering our old sinful self completely as we long to become complete in the image of Christ – which is our “new creation” image.  

Yet, all too often, when the topic of holiness is discussed there are pitfalls that creep in and threaten to undo or destroy this transformation of the soul.  These pitfalls come in the form of erroneous thoughts or beliefs which can make ones attempt of complete surrender to the Holy Spirit impossible or at the very least extremely difficult.  

I would like to address three major pitfalls of holy living which always seem to cripple and strangle this vital growth process.  I use the term “process” for lack of a better word, though I mean this walk of holiness and complete surrender.  I also find myself using the words “holiness” and “complete surrender” either together or interchangeably only because “complete surrender” is what is required of us when we allow the Holy Spirit to sanctify us through and through.   

These pitfalls seem to be the three most influential concepts hanging around today that can cause the most damage and deter a person from accepting and receiving this second blessing:

Pitfall #1 – Holiness is about Perfection



I cannot count how many times the term “perfection” comes up when discussing “Holiness” with Sunday School classes and Bible study groups.   Holiness and “human perfection” are not synonymous.   When we talk about becoming Holy, we do not all of a sudden become devoid of our imperfections while suddenly becoming perfect in every way physical shape or physical form.  Human perfection is not our goal when we talk about becoming holy.  The pursuit of human perfection is impossible improbable.  We need to recognize that this pitfall of associating human perfection with holiness will only cause us to become frustrated and long for an easier route in the spiritual life.  

Although we recognize that human perfection is not our goal we should also, in the same breath, acknowledge that it does not let us off the hook within the realms of our moral living.  The old scapegoat of “I’m only human” cannot be our excuse when we make mistakes and stumble upon this path of righteousness.  Yes, we will not be humanly perfect, but the Holy Spirit can sanctify us through and through while providing us aid and strength to avoid the trappings of the old life.  

Pitfall #2 – Holiness is all about working harder



Truth be told this pitfall leads to a lot of burnout among Christ-followers.  Some feel as if they must do more for the “glory of God” and when they consider what “do” is, it entails longer hours of sweat and toil.  Don’t misunderstand me here, the Holy life does include many sacrifices and effort, but simply working harder is not the sole pathway to holiness.  

We can dress up in our uniforms and act the part and still not be any closer to being sanctified through and through.  
We miss the point.  Sanctification is the Holy Spirit’s work within those who are earnestly willing to surrender everything from within and without.  No effort unto our own will ever suffice.  No measure of extraneous “works” will earn us holiness.  We must begin with a humble, seeking heart and a willingness to be taught by the Master.  When we are on our knees before Him, longing to be made whole through the Holy Spirit, then and only then may we experience the all consuming power of sanctification.  

The working harder doesn’t come first…it comes second.  This isn’t to say that we maintain our holiness through working harder, but rather it is a response of love and devotion to the One who cleanses us through and through.  All physical appearances for the benefit of others within the realms of our “works” may very well still fall within the old life.  Working harder in the hopes of attaining holiness will only cause frustration, burnout and disillusionment.  Instead worthy pursuits to consider would be – humility, complete surrender, the discipline of prayer & supplication.

Pitfall #3 – Holiness is only available to smarter more capable saints.



Believe it or not many come to the conclusion that holiness is only reserved for the wisest and the smartest of the saints.  Thankfully (in my case and perhaps yours) this is simply not true.  Jesus even told His disciples when they were attempting to shoo off children who were climbing all over Jesus this:  “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14 NIV)  I recognize the context here but to me this also indicates the child-like faith we need in order to receive the Holy Spirit. 



Here’s a comforting thought: We don’t need to be a scholar to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and that of Sanctification.  We do not need to have degrees on our walls or wear a specific color of trim on our shoulders to pursue Christ-likeness.  A lot of people have the head-knowledge but when it comes to the heart-knowledge the mettle of sincere intentions and devotion are formally revealed.  This is first a personal matter.  A private conversation with God Himself.  It is a one on one appearance with God in the holy of holies.  He shows up.  He will never forsake us, and His desire for us all is to avoid these pitfalls as we pursue His holiness in our lives.  Yes, Holiness is possible and attainable to all who are willing to surrender fully to Him.  

-Just another some to ponder today.




Reasons why I dislike waiting on God…but…


“Wait on the Lord…and He shall strengthen your heart.” (Psalm 27:14)

The Reasons I dislike waiting on God: 

1.  I am impatient. 


I am not the most patient man.  My children know this.  I must temper this very often when things are not done now.  We live in a fast paced society, it is “fast-food” driven.  We even have slogans from these “fast-food” establishments that back that claim up like “have it your way”.  

When it comes to waiting on God I am not patient.  I often want Him to answer me now.  I want instant responses and yet I know He doesn’t work like that. 

2. Waiting on God reminds me of how powerless I truly am.
Besides impatience, this waiting reminds me that I live in a temporal body and ultimately I can do nothing in this body to save my self from some certainties in life.  Death, sickness (in some regards), Taxes, laws of our world.  I am powerless and yet I must wait with that knowledge in mind.  Perhaps you can relate to me when I say that I am stubborn…are you?  In my stubbornness I, at times, refuse to admit that I cannot do something.  I must do the impossible.  I must becomes Superman and superdad, and superpastor…but when I am forced to slow down; when I am forced to wait on God I am reminded of just how powerless I truly am.   

3.  Waiting on God humbles me…it’s a matter of pride.
I just mentioned how stubborn I can be.  To ask for help from God and then having to wait for an answer can be a serious blow to my pride.  I’m just putting it out there…I can admit that pride is sometimes often a bane of mine.  I am proud of what I can do.  Proud of what I can accomplish.   I am proud that I am self-sufficient…and then BAM, I am knocked to my knees again.  Circumstances sometimes do not go my way, things I had planned don’t pan out, and I am humbled by the outcome.  Can you relate?  I sure hope so. Please tell me I’m not alone in this human failing.  I dislike this waiting, at times, because it means I have much more to surrender in terms of my pride to God.  


This isn’t a bad thing.  
When I have to discipline my children, it’s not because I hate them or want to harm them, it is because I love them deeply and I want them to grow and make better decisions next time.  

This is sometimes why I find God will at times take His time in answering me.  He wants me to make better decisions.  He wants me to depend more on Him.  He wants me to tear down the fortresses of pride that I have erected and are now keeping me from Him.  The waiting isn’t because He is withholding His love from me…no, the waiting is because He loves me so much He wants me to be willing to surrender completely.  I dislike it severely at times (honestly It’s sometimes a “hate” thing), yet I know He loves me so much that He will not forget me.  He will not forsake me. 


Truth:  waiting sucks!  There I said it.  
But in the waiting on God the discipline of surrender and humility can further shape us.  In the waiting we can also learn to trust Him more.  In this waiting we can learn to love Him and discover how much He loves us.  

-Just another thing for us to ponder.  

Let Go of the Baggage – “Things that hold you back.”



Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”  Hebrews 12:1 (NIV) 

When we as a family prepare to go on a vacation there are usually two types of people in our family.  Type One – the under-packer who just wants to be out the door and in the van in fifteen minutes or less and worry about what we didn’t bring with us later.           Type Two – The over-packer who wants to bring everything from our home along with us on the trip and takes twice as long to get ready to leave.  Also this type two person (who will not be named but I’m married to her) has to clean the house as if we were receiving an inspection from a military grade house inspector with white gloves and all.  

If you haven’t guessed yet, I’m the type one person who at times sits impatiently in the van honking the horn as the type-two person (again unnamed but I’m married to her) finishes cleaning the house until it shines and is sparkling clean.  

Truth be told, I am glad that my wife takes great care in our preparations and in the long run, as much as I hate to admit it, She is right.  

There’s another kind of baggage in life though

Sin can weigh us down. 

Make no mistake about it, the old life (before Christ) leads to death.  When we come to Jesus and we accept His gift of salvation we are made into new creations by His blood.  The old has gone and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17)…but at times we still feel as if we have to keep lugging that baggage around with us.  It weighs us down, causes us difficulty and trouble and yet we still habitually burden ourselves with this unnecessary baggage.  

What is this baggage? 

1) It is the remnants of the old creation –

When Christ saved us, He did so completely yet we find it very difficult to let go of old habits and old sinful ways of living. The Holy Spirit prompts us to unclinch our white knuckled fists which are tightly holding onto these things that we needn’t any more to grasp. In times of trial and stress, these old remnants also rear their ugly heads to cause us strife and further temptation as well.  When we lose our focus on the forward prize of Holiness, which is the image of Christ alive in us, we face the old self again.  When this happens a flood of the old tendencies pours in and once again we find ourselves taking two or three steps backwards in our progress of Holiness. This baggage has been there all along festering and molding in a cold dark corner of our hearts and we’ve been reluctant, even rebellious in our lack of spiritual attempts to deal with it, so, instead we ignore it.    The Holy Spirit knows that this baggage does not belong in our new creation.  He is spurring us, even painfully at times, to let go of it.  Why do we still clutch it ever so tightly?  What good can ever come from its hold on us?  This baggage stands blatantly in our path of real, tangible Spiritual growth and yet we allow it to stunt us.  

Prayer – Dear Lord, allow me to see this baggage in my life today.  Show me that which still blocks my steps to full surrender.  Reveal to me the places that I have yet to let go of.  I do not want these burdens of the old creation to hinder my forward progress of reflecting You.  -Amen.

2) The Baggage can also be our guilt, shame and self-worth.

The old life also has a way of convincing us that we are not good enough to be like Christ.  It will try and convince us that we will never be good enough or smart enough to receive such a reward from God.  This has nothing to do with pride, in fact just the opposite.  When Christ redeems us, the wretched sinner, He does so completely.  When we commit our hearts to Him, He washes us clean.  This doesn’t mean that we won’t face temptation again or that we can not fall, but it does mean that His blood sacrifice can and will cover up our sinful old creations and wash them away.  Our part, within this free will, however, is that we must confront our old harmful choices that we have made.  This is the consequences of sin, we have to face it.  Sometimes in facing it we find ourselves so wrecked by it that we begin to doubt if Christ could truly love us because we have done so much wrong.  This remnant of the old baggage clings to us and tries to convince us of the lie that we are not worth His time and that, perhaps, we were never salvageable through His gift of salvation.  Don’t buy the life.  This isn’t about pride, but it’s about truth.  You matter to God!  He loves YOU!  He wants to remind you that you are His precious child and that you are a son or daughter of the Most High!  Don’t cling to this old baggage, which is a lie.  Let go of it, and embrace this truth of His saving grace – You are His and He would do it all over again if you had been the only human alive!  When you let go of this old baggage and recognize how much it has weighed you down you will begin to see how free you will feel.  

Let go, and find this burden lifted from you!  

Prayer – Dear Lord, remind me again of how much you love me.  Remind me when I struggle with my identity in You that I am worthy because of Your love.  Help to me see myself as You see me, and as I do help me to let go of my grip on this baggage of self-worth. Thank you for your love and for your hand upon my life, lift me up out of this pit of self-degradation and give me a passion to serve and love you with ever fiber of my being.  -Amen.

Get On With It!

 Letting go of the baggage that hinder us is only the first step, now we have to press on.  Jesus is our living example, and this world still needs His example lived out in Holy Christ-following people.  Shine so that others might see Him.  Live as the Holy Spirit leads you to live.  Get up and get on with this new creation…oh and leave your baggage behind!  


Got any rivers you think are uncrossable?

Got any mountains you can’t tunnel through?

God specializes in things thought impossible

And He can do what no other power can do.


Why I stopped listening to “Christian” Music


I probably just offended a few Christians out there, sorry that was not my intent, let me get to the point.  I have a problem with certain types of music that has become exclusive.  By this I mean Christianity isn’t a show in which we sell tickets and make money.  U2 once wrote in one of their songs, “Then they put Jesus in show business, now it’s hard to get in the door.” (If God will Send His Angels, 1997)  Is it hard for outsiders to hear the gospel of Jesus in some of the “Religious” music today?  

I like what Jon Foreman, singer/song writer of ‘Switchfoot’ said when asked if their band was a “Christian” band; “…There is a schism between the sacred and the secular in all of our modern minds. The view that a pastor is more ‘Christian’ than a girls volleyball coach is flawed and heretical. The stance that a worship leader is more spiritual than a janitor is condescending and flawed. These different callings and purposes further demonstrate God’s sovereignty. Many songs are worthy of being written. Switchfoot will write some, Keith Green, Bach, and perhaps yourself have written others. Some of these songs are about redemption, others about the sunrise, others about nothing in particular: written for the simple joy of music. None of these songs has been born again, and to that end there is no such thing as Christian music. No. Christ didn’t come and die for my songs, he came for me. Yes. My songs are a part of my life. But judging from scripture I can only conclude that our God is much more interested in how I treat the poor and the broken and the hungry than the personal pronouns I use when I sing. I am a believer...”  (http://ctkblog.com/2013/12/05/why-switchfoot-wont-sing-christian-songs/

“Christian” music shouldn’t be a label that bands slap on themselves to sell records, it should be a lifestyle no matter if they fill stadiums or play in churches.  I think there’s a misnomer that if you don’t make it big on a secular label one can just “crossover” and produce mediocre tunes and still be successful…I honestly don’t think that mentality is truly an effective source of genuine evangelism. 

1. Get out of the bubble:




I applaud musicians who see the world around them as Jon does.  There shouldn’t be a schism in our society that differentiates and divides.  I recognize the need to be “set apart” as Christians, but does that mean that we should also be separated and exclusive in our music too?  Understandably there are certain forms of music that are foul in language and sexual in nature that we should avoid. This isn’t about worship music on Sunday mornings either, this is about how we perceive the world around us and breaking down the walls of an “Us against Them” mentality.  

We can’t build walls around the Christian church, if anything Jesus came to tear down those walls.  Sometimes I get frustrated with the “Christian bubble” affect that Christian music has on people.  You know the old phrase “don’t become so heavenly minded that you’re of no earthly good”?  This is exactly what happens, in my opinion, when all that we live and breathe is the Christian radio station in our cars.  This is what happens when our worldview becomes so small that it just includes the four walls of our church and our homes. God has a bigger outlook on His people than just for the purpose of insulating themselves in the bubble of the “Christian world”.  

If we are to be His mouthpiece in the world we have to be willing to step out of our little bubbles and stop looking at “non-Christians” as “Them”…we’re all people who have been created by a mighty God and He loves people and He longs for a restored relationship with ALL people!  His desire is that all will hear of His amazing love.  

2. Don’t Disguise Jesus: 




I am not saying we shouldn’t proclaim His name either.  We shouldn’t have to dress up Christ in a disguise in order to fool people into listening to “Christian” music either, and I don’t think that Bands like Switchfoot do this.  Jesus doesn’t need a disguise in order to fit into the lives of any who are lost in this world.  Jesus wasn’t bothered by the social norms and constraints of the Ancient Jewish customs and neither would He be in our day and age.   God doesn’t get stuck in our socially accepted roles and rules, He is above them and He sees how things should be not how things are right now.  Jesus doesn’t need a disguise and will work through the hearts of those who are genuine and real.  He will work In the hearts of those who have a real passion to reach the lost, the poor, the hurting. We can’t box God in and say that He doesn’t love “those” people because He is still seeking and willing to save anyone who needs Him.




3. Dear Musicians, Lay off the cheesy lyrical cliches of “Christianese” 




I am trying not to offend anyone, but there are some annoying Christian lyrics out there being played on the radio today.  For example, “If you don’t know what to say, just say “Jesus”…”  Are you kidding me?  Is that the best we can do?  How is that reaching out to those who have never heard the truths and love of God?  Sorry, my critical side is showing and I’m sure I will receive some feedback on this, but any genre of music should make the attempt to produce quality music and not settle for the (churchy) old, tired cliches.  From an outsider’s perspective it just comes across as cheesy and who wants to listen to something thrown together that doesn’t even come close to the level of quality listeners come to expect in modern music?  

Don’t compromise the message, but also don’t settle for mediocrity either.  In all things we ought to strive for excellence and keep the passion to reach a dying world at the forefront of our mission.   Christ came for the whosoever not the “whatever”.  He still longs for His people to actively engage in relevant evangelism so that the truth of His Word can penetrate hurting hearts, but we can’t rely on tired old cliche’s that no one understands to deliver that message.  

In a nutshell:



 I listen to all kinds of music.  I enjoy many, many genres, and I don’t want to place myself in an unbreakable Christian bubble as I look out into the “outside” world.  We all are called to step out and be available to show His love to anyone we can reach.  We can’t compartmentalize our Church life from our social life…It’s all life and there is a real mission to fulfill in it.  This is more than just music, this is the great commission and we can not afford to waste our time living in an exclusive world while millions die without seeing the real, tangible Christ in our walks of faith and in the words we say and live out loud.  


To quote again one of my favorite bands – U2 “There is no them, there’s only Us” (Invisible, 2013)

-Just a thought.  



***Disclaimer: It’s not that I don’t listen to “music with a message” or Christian music, it’s that I long for a deeper more impacting quality of music in the Christ-following realm that is played on radios. I love the Lord with all my heart and I want to serve Him the best that I can, but I also don’t want to cheapen that relationship by settling for a poor quality of music. Long story short, I’m a music snob…sorry about that!***

The Weight of Finality


“The day of the Lord is near for all nations.  As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.”            -Obadiah 1:15

The book of Obadiah is only a chapter long and is often overlooked, but let’s discuss if for a second through the lens of our own context.

This announcement given by Obadiah whose name literally means “servant of God” is not just for the people of Edom, it is for us as well.  The Edomites were proud over their own security as a nation and that of their might, but they also lorded their power and gloated over the Israelites.  Obadiah’s warning to the Edomites also included a warning for all nations as well.  



Jesus is preaching the greatest sermon this earth has ever heard or will ever hear (The Sermon on the mount) and he makes this statement: 

Matthew Chapter 5 –

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[h] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.


Love for Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[i] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

There is a weight of Finality:

God’s love for humanity, even people we cannot stand, far outweighs our capacity to love them…but that is no excuse.  We are to love and the consequences of that love is that the world is impacted for the better.  Secondly God can shine through us.  

The day of the Lord will come to us.  The real question is what will the weight of that certainty be for us when it does?  

-Just a thought for today.


A New Song


“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry…He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.” (Psalm 40:1,3)

I have been humming a tune for a few days now.  Songs seem to resonate within my heart and soul.  Sometimes it’s like I have a ipod in my brain that keeps reshuffling songs.  It’s almost scary at times that I can recite song lyrics I learned as a child.  But more recently, the tune that’s been in my ear and my head is a tune U2 began singing and still sings today at the end of their concerts.  It’s a song that comes right out of the Bible.   It is found in Psalm 40, a psalm of David – the man after God’s own heart.  David describes within this epic poem the holiness and salvation of God.  How God has rescued David’s life out of the pit and has given him a new song to sing which includes love and praise to the Almighty for what He has done.  It is a new song, yet a song that still needs to be sung by all of us…


There are people all around the World longing to sing a new song.  It is an old song, an ancient song, yet with it brings new life, new hope, and a fresh start.  There are people all around the World longing to find a peace that passes all understanding, a peace that penetrates their troubles in life and provides relief.  Perhaps you’re in need of this new song today as well. 

When we consider the songs this world has to offer, we will eventually come up short and unsatisfied.  All of earth’s wealth could never compare to the glorious riches that God the Father can provide to us.  He will give us a new song to sing.  He will gladly put these words in our mouth and lift us up out of the muck and mire.  He is most definitely worthy to be praised! 

Will you sing a new song?  Are you prepared to encounter the Creator of the Universe who can lift you up from our desolate pit?  Perhaps it’s time to stop humming the songs of the earth which will evaporate and disolve like snow, and ask God for an eternal song, which will last for all time. 

-Just a thought.   

Knowing or Trusting?


“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”…“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:13, 15-16) 

Jesus looked at His followers and asked them a detailed demographic question.  It was a survey of sorts.  “Who do people say the Son of man is?”  In other words who do they think I am?  Jesus, more than likely already knew what others thought of Him and who He might be, but He asked His disciples.  Why did He do that?  Why ask if He already knew the answers?  

Perhaps the reason Jesus asked His disciples this question was to help them finally pin down who Jesus was in their hearts and minds.  He first asks them about how others viewed Him.  It is an the greater perspective, but then Jesus brings it back to them when He said, “But who do YOU say that I am?”  Notice the personal question.  Now the tables have turned.  Now the disciples are glancing at each other hoping someone will answer first.  It is one of the most pivotal moments in their spiritual education as Jesus’ disciples.  This one solitary moment of internal reflection.  It is a moment that causes each disciple to carefully inspect what He has done and what He has said.  For but a moment, doubt and worry must have clouded their minds. For but a moment each individual, not the collective, considered the right words to say to Jesus. It was mere moments but it could have been a lifetime.  

Is it no surprise that Peter is the one to speak?  He was the disciples that climbed out of the boat when all of the others waited and watched Jesus walking on the waves.  The same Peter who seemingly dove head first into anything he did.  It was all or nothing with Peter.  So Peter speaks up and nails Jesus’ identity for the group gathered there.  “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God“.  Can you say hashtag #nailedit ?  Peter solidifies for the rest of the disciples as he identifies Jesus.  It’s been nearly three years that they have been together, didn’t they already know?  Didn’t they already trust THE Rabbi?  

I think the question here that begs to be asked for us today is this:  “Who do we think Jesus is?” Can we quickly respond as Peter did?  Can we identify Jesus as God’s Son and Messiah to us as well?  Is He your Messiah?  

You see I believe there is a big difference between knowing Jesus and trusting Jesus!  James 2:19 says, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.”  You could substitute the word ‘believe’ for the word ‘know’.  Even the demons know Jesus.  That is a big difference from fully trusting in Him though.  Trusting Jesus means that we have to let go of our preconceived notions.  It means that we have to relinquish our self-reliance.  It means that we have to place our faith in something other than ourselves or something seen…but in the unseen.  

Do you trust the Son of God?  Have you let go of your casual understanding of Him?  Are you prepared to delve into the waters of faith?  Don’t just settle for knowing Jesus, trust Him also!  Peter declared boldly “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”; may we have this same boldness in our faith to do likewise today!  

-Just a thought for today.

  • Simply trusting every day;
    Trusting through a stormy way;
    Even when my faith is small,
    Trusting Jesus, that is all.
  • Trusting as the moments fly,
    Trusting as the days go by,
    Trusting Him, whate’er befall,
      Trusting Jesus, that is all.


I Surrender All?

“You never go away from us, yet we have difficulty in returning to You. Come, Lord, stir us up and call us back. Kindle and seize us. Be our fire and our sweetness. Let us love. Let us run.” ― Augustine of HippoConfessions


Why does it still happen to us, who call ourselves Christ-followers?  Why do we shy away from this disciplined, more refined lifestyle?  God is calling us to something deeper, something far better than what we experiencing in the here and now.  Why do we fight it?  Could it be that we have something more to surrender?  Could it be that we have held back a part of us from Him?  

God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac.  He did what?  It’s true.  God told Abraham to take Isaac up into the mountains, build an altar and shed his only son’s blood as an offering and as a sign of allegiance to the Almighty.  Scripture doesn’t say that Abraham refused, yet I struggle with this passage.  How could a father follow through with a request like this?  Abraham doesn’t refuse and he does what God asks of him, he goes up into the mountains and takes his son with him.  Everything is premeditated, including the murder weapon.  Yet I know that Abraham must have dreaded what was to come.  He must have mourned and waged within himself over this request from God.  Isaac’s name means “He laughs” and that is certainly what Abraham and Sarah did when they received the news that they would have a son.  After all, Abraham was nearly a  hundred years old when they received this divine news.  But Isaac’s name meant much more then their initial response.  He would bring joy into their lives.  They would laugh until tears ran from their eyes!  He was their answer to so many years of barrenness and familial emptiness.   Isaac was Abraham and Sarah’s pride and joy…even to the point of replacing God.  

We do this sometimes.  People and even things have a tendency of replacing God as top priority in our lives.  We don’t intentionally run from God, but little by little we find ourselves unwilling to surrender everything before Him.  This is a very real danger in our ministries and in our spiritual journey and Christ-followers!  We utter the chorus “I surrender all” with our lips and yet in our hearts we’re holding onto something that needs to sacrificed at the altar of self!  

Abraham didn’t hold back.  He was obedient to God.  Perhaps he understood the message that God was trying to send to him way before he held the sharp blade over his bound son on that stone altar.  He certainly displayed his obedience in his response to Isaac’s questions about where the lamb was going come from when Abraham replied, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”  (Genesis 22:8)  Though Isaac had become his pride and joy, and perhaps, for a time replaced God on his priority list, Abraham had faith!  His faith was indeed rewarded when an Angel appeared and stopped him from completing costly sacrifice. The angel said, ““Do not lay a hand on the boy,…Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” (Genesis 22:12)  

If, today, we find ourselves far away from God because we have run may we return to Him!  If, today, we find that we have placed others of things before God may we be willing to lay them all at His feet in total surrender.  God is faithful and longs for us to return to Him!  He also longs to make us holy people, the very image of Christ for all the world to see.  But that image cannot remain on us if we are unwilling to surrender everything and return to Him!  


Lord in my returning, make me holy.

Lord in my renewal, send the fire! 

May my life and heart be ever for you

restore me from sin-sick muck and mire! 




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