Fix Your Gaze on Christ

Our need remains the same – to see Christ more clearly, so He may be loved and trusted more deeply and really by us.  So that when Satan comes to threaten us with fear to draw back from following Christ, to love our selves rather than Him, to try and preserve our possessions instead of clinging to Him as our treasure, we stand fast and resist him with our hearts free from the love of this world and our eyes fixed on Him who loves us and gave Himself for us.  We need to see Him more clearly so that we cannot help but love Him – this burning love displacing all others.  May He be lifted up and win our hearts to Himself!

This is the most important thing for us – this beholding of our Savior, so you can be sure Satan will make this one of his biggest objectives.  He will try to distract us with a million other things, entice us away with the lure of comfort, lead us astray to another Jesus, or any number of other tricks to drive a wedge between us and our Savior – anything to destroy our confidence before Him and interrupt intimacy with Him.  Satan knows that our strength, our potency, our authority and love come from Him – Christ is working through us to accomplish His good, acceptable and perfect will – but all that is hindered to the degree that our communion and intimacy with Him are hindered by sin in our lives.  ‘How can two walk together unless they are agreed?’

Some Favorite Stuff From Tozer

These are some of my favorite excerpts from “The Pursuit of God” by Tozer:

“When religion has said its last word, there is little that we need other than God Himself. The evil habit of seeking God-and effectively prevents us from finding God in full revelation. In the ‘and’ lies our great woe. If we omit the ‘and’ we shall soon find God.”

“There is within the human heart a tough fibrous root of fallen life whose nature is to possess, always to possess. It covets ‘things’ with a deep and fierce passion. The pronouns ‘my’ and ‘mine’ look innocent enough in print, but their constant and universal use is significant. They express the real nature of the old Adamic man better than a thousand volumes of theology could do. They are verbal symptoms of our deep disease. The roots of our hearts have grown down into things, and we dare not pull up one rootlet lest we die. Things have become necessary to us, a development never originally intended. God’s gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution. Our Lord referred to this tyranny of things when He said to His disciples, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.” There is within each of us an enemy which we tolerate at our peril. Jesus called it ‘life’ and ‘self,’ or as we would say, the self-life.”

“The ancient curse will not go out painlessly; the tough old miser within us will not lie down and die obedient to our command. He must be born out of our heart like a plant from the soil; he must be extracted in agony and blood like a tooth from the jaw. He must be expelled from our soul by violence as Christ expelled the money changers from the temple. And we shall need to steel ourselves against his piteous begging, and to recognize it as springing out of self-pity, one of the most reprehensible sins of the human heart.”

“It is woven of fine threads of the self-life, the hyphenated sins of the human spirit. They are not something we do, they are something we are, and therein lies both their subtlety and their power. To be specific, the self-sins are these: self-righteousness, self-pity, self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love and a host of others like them. They dwell too deep within us and are too much a part of our natures to come to our attention till the light of God is focused upon them.”

“In human experience that veil is made of living spiritual tissue; it is composed of the sentient, quivering stuff of which our whole beings consist, and to touch it is to touch us where we feel pain. To tear it away is to injure us, to hurt us and make us bleed. To say otherwise is to make the cross no cross and death no death at all. It is never fun to die. To rip through the dear and tender stuff of which life is made can never be anything but deeply painful. Yet that is what the cross did to Jesus and it is what the cross would do to every man to set him free. We dare not rest content with a neat doctrine of self-crucifixion. That is to imitate Saul and spare the best of the sheep and the oxen. The cross is rough, and it is deadly, but it is effective. It does not keep its victim hanging there forever. There comes a moment when its work is finished and the suffering victim dies. After that is resurrection glory and power, and the pain is forgotten for joy that the veil is taken away and we have entered in actual spiritual experience the Presence of the living God.”

“The whole course of the life is upset by failure to put God where He belongs. We exult ourselves instead of God and the curse follows. For this God-above-all position is one not easy to take. The mind may approve it while not having the consent of the will to put it into effect.”

What’s on my easel

This is what I’ve been working on lately.  It is a commission piece for a good friend of mine.  The scene is about 30 miles from my house, and is commonly referred to as the “Holy City” – a volcanic formation with tons of wierd spires .  Not done yet… I will add a photo of the finished piece.

It is 24×30 inches, oil on canvas:

Beginning the Internet Marketing Journey

I am plunging into the world of internet marketing (not to mention everything else that goes with working on the internet like how to use FTP, HTML, Blogging tools, Plugins, etc…) and will be posting everything I learn here.  So check back now and then, or subscribe to this blog.  I post a lot of other subjects, but if you are interested specifically in this one, just check the “Marketing/Business” category.

I am starting pretty much from scratch.  I am 29, so I’m not totally ignorant when it comes to computers, but I am definitely a beginner when it comes to getting my website listed on the first page of a Google search.  Right now I’m in the process of gathering information, pouring through tons of articles and websites trying to learn the right way to do this  (because from what I’ve learned so far, there are definitely wrong ways to go about this that end up hurting you).

So, I expect this to be a long process, and maybe in 6 months or a year, this blog will be worth something to someone who is starting out like I am now.

Lead them to the living Truth

“No teacher should strive to make men think as he thinks, but lead them to the living Truth, to the Master Himself, of whom alone they can learn anything, who will make them in themselves know what is true by the very seeing of it.”

– George MacDonald

Painting when I don’t feel like it

Some of the best advice I’ve ever been given was to paint even when I didn’t feel like it.  There are definitely times when I don’t want to paint at all.  But the times when I choose to pick up the brush anyway have always been very rewarding.  Some of my best work has been done after pressing through a few grueling minutes of “I just don’t feel like painting!”.

There’s a lot to be said for cultivating a habit, the character, of doing something that ‘goes against your grain’ , something you just don’t want to do.  I mean, what would we look like if we just did what felt good at the moment?  What kind of existence is that?  Hardness is a good thing in our lives.  Even going through the small battle of “should I paint today even though I really don’t want to” helps us grow.  And there are rewards that come with that, like becoming a better painter, a better person.  Maybe a cliche, but I just don’t want to end up like the people on WALLE.

Love Begets Love

“Were our meditations on the Lord’s appreciation of our love more deep, earnest, and simple, we should be more undivided in heart for Him.  Love begets love.  It is the fire I sit at that warms me.  The nearer the fire, the warmer I am.  The nearer I am to the heart of Christ, the warmer will be my own, and the more intense the flame of love to Him.  As well might I think of getting warmed by going out to the garden and looking at the snow, as getting more love to Christ by looking to myself, thinking of myself, and trying to increase my love  for Him.

But, somehow, many say, I do not grow in love to Him, and in appreciation of His love to me, and I do desire to feel more love to Him.  Well, then, if it is the fire I sit at that warms me, it is also the food I eat that satisfies me.  Let thy soul feed on Christ.  And a rich repast thou wilt find in this wonderful chapter.  Meditate thereon.  It will bear being studied, word by word.  And oh!  Think of the heart that each word flows from.  Unbelief lets the words of Christ go for nothing, faith feeds on them.  But be sure and rise in thy meditations to the heart from whence they flow.  Every study His words in fellowship with Himself.  Beware of separating the word from the Person of Christ.  Thus shalt thy love increase, and thy practical conformity to Himself grow exceedingly.”

(from Meditations of the Song of Solomon by Andrew Miller)

Love is as Strong as Death

Love is as Strong as Death (Song of Solomon 8:6-7)

I’ve been seeking to know what God’s heart is for several years.  Questions like: What does He think about? What are His thoughts of me?  How does He view me?  What brings Him joy? Sadness?  This is a very small piece of the answer.

Psalm 40:5 “Many, O Lord my God, are Your wonderful works which You have done; and Your thoughts toward us cannot be recounted to You in order; if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.”

O what joy that it is ours to search out this truth!  To get to know the heart of our God, to enter within the veil, into the Holy of Holies!  He is our heavenly Bridegroom and it is our unspeakable privilege to “depart not out of the tabernacle” like Joshua.

“Put me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm.  For love is as strong as death, jealousy is as severe as Sheol; its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD.  Many waters cannot quench love, nor will rivers overflow it; if a man were to give all the riches of his house for love, it would be utterly despised.”

(Song of Songs 8:6-7)

“For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.”  (Ephesians 3:14-19)

It is so essential that we are rooted and grounded in love, specifically the love of our God towards us.  I think (and have experienced myself) that one of the major ways Satan tries to render us ineffective is to destroy our confidence before God.  When I lose my confidence that God is for me and that His heart is always one of love towards me, it has a separating effect on our relationship.  That intimacy is lost.  Its like cutting a branch off an apple tree and leaving it on the ground.  My salvation is not lost, but I’m not going to produce many apples.  My closeness and intimacy to Christ is the source of my Life and when that relationship suffers – everything else in my life suffers.  These are some truths that God has been teaching me to root me and ground me in His love so that when some circumstance or some failure of mine comes along, I remain more confident in God’s heart instead of feeling cut off.

“Put me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm.  For love is as strong as death, jealousy is as severe as Sheol; its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of the LORD.  Many waters cannot quench love, nor will rivers overflow it; if a man were to give all the riches of his house for love, it would be utterly despised.”

(Song of Songs 8:6-7)

The text is out of the Song of Songs again, and I just wanted to share a general principle about interpreting the Song of Songs or Song of Solomon as an allegory between God and Christians.  I’m trying carefully not to build or teach any doctrine out of this book that I don’t find clearly stated in the rest of Scripture.  In the NT, every believer is said to be ‘married’ to Jesus Christ as His bride, and Jesus is said to be the Bridegroom or Husband of the believer.  (Romans 7:4; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:22-33; John 3:29)  This is why the Song of Solomon is often looked at allegorically, because it is a love song between a bridegroom and his bride.  It is certainly not the only way to interpret this book, but is how I will treat it this morning.

This is the heart cry of the bride, a prayer to her Love.  The seal here is simply a piece of stone or other material that has been carved to leave an imprint on something as kind of signature.  (Like in the movies, the signet ring puts a mark on the hot wax to seal the envelope)  And it seems that she is saying, “Don’t forget me.  Remember me!”  It is a request for closeness – “like a seal over your heart” she says.

Christ is not physically here with us right now, He’s preparing a place for us.  And there are times when we say as the bride, “Don’t forget me” or if times get trying we ask “Do you remember me?” We can relate to Israel who said “The Lord has forsaken me, and the Lord has forgotten me.”  And we hear the reply of our God “Can a woman forget her nursing child, and have no compassion on the son of her womb?  Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.  Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before Me.” (Isaiah 49:15-16)

Then the verse begins a description of love:


We have a lot of definitions and connotations for love in English.  We love everything from pizza to our spouse. We use the word to describe a lot.  But what we’re talking about here is agape.  It is that self-giving for the true good of the beloved.  It is that self-sacrificing love. There is no cost too great for this kind of love to do good to the loved one. It is a uniquely wise love.  God knows what is truly best for us (which is not always what we think is best for us), but what is truly good for us. It is marked by a desire to benefit the other with no hidden motive or agenda for a kickback.  It is a pure desire of God and He acts upon it.  He does not stand on the sidelines wishing to help us, wanting to help us.  No, He is the Good Samaritan!  He goes out of His way to do good for us.  WAY out of His way.  To the point that He saw our need for righteousness, our need to be right with Him, our need for someone to come and save us.  So God laid aside His majesty and became a man to meet that need.  He took the punishment that was rightfully ours.  He saw us, ‘You cannot bear that guilt without going to hell, I will bear it for you’  ‘You don’t have a clean record, I will give you Mine’  All this at great cost to Himself.  He felt pain.  He experienced the suffering of our humanity with us.  But I think the worst thing He experienced was the separation from His Father on the cross when He bore our sin.  He left heaven to come here because He loved us. He saw our need and came to meet it.

‘All the angels exalt you on high, what a kingdom to depart,

but you left your throne in the sky, just live inside my heart’

The apostle John said that this is the very essence of God: “And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16)

“Just as water always seeks the lowest depths in order to fill them, so is Jehovah always seeking out man’s need in order to satisfy it.  Where there is need, there is God.  Where there is sorrow, misery, unhappiness, suffering, confusion, folly, oppression, there is the I AM, yearning to turn man’s sorrow into bliss whenever man will let Him.  It is not, therefore, the hungry seeking for bread, but the Bread seeking the hungry; not the sad seeking for joy, but rather Joy seeking the sad; not emptiness seeking fullness, but rather Fullness seeking emptiness.  And it is not merely that He supplies our need, but He becomes Himself the fulfillment of our need.  He is ever ‘I am that which My people need.’ (We Would See Jesus p. 40-1)

This is the love of God towards us.  “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is towards me.”(Song of Songs 7:10)

So the description of love continues: “FOR LOVE IS AS STRONG AS DEATH”

Strength of love – it is as strong as death. We are all too familiar with the strength of death. Death overcomes all obstacles (age, physical vigor, all manner of life- as plants, animals, man, etc…)  But WE CAN SEE THE STRENGTH OF LOVE BY WHAT IT OVERCOMES

Love overcomes all obstacles. The love of Christ for us is strong!  His love is strong enough to overcome all obstacles.  It is not weak.  LOVE overcame the obstacles of suffering, of humiliation.  He overcomes the obstacle of giving Himself without receiving.  We can hardly call selfishness an obstacle for our God; it is easy for Him because His love is not based on what He gets out of it.  But we can fall into thinking that God is like us instead of like Himself.  He does not love as we often do – only loving until we’re offended or only loving as long as we’re benefiting from it.  He overcomes the forces of Satan.  While being very real, and having a real power, they are no match for the strength of God’s love for us.  There is nothing that Satan or his demons can do to separate us from the love of Christ.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:35-39)

The strength of Christ’s love overcomes time.  His love does not grow cold or disinterested over time, but is steadfast in His affections, desires, and actions towards us.

His love overcomes the barrier of separation.  (physical separation)  He lives inside us in a real way, and He will never forsake us, yet we are not yet with Him.  While this can try our faith, and be hard for us sometimes – not being able to see Him –  it is not an obstacle for our Bridegroom.

Love will stop at nothing to do good to the beloved.
(I will post the rest soon)

Excerpts from Diary of an Old Soul

“Sometimes I wake, and, lo I have forgot,

And drifted out upon an ebbing sea!

My soul that was at rest now resteth not,

For I am with myself and not with thee;

When I no more can stir my soul to move,

And life is but the ashes of a fire;

When I can but remember that my heart

Once used to live and love, long and aspire –

Oh, be thou then the first, the one thou art;

Be thou the calling, before all answering love,

And in me wake hope, fear, boundless desire.”

I read these recently in a book I’ll probably be posting from often – Diary of an Old Soul by George MacDonald.  He is one of my favorite authors, and these verses stuck out to me. I guess they gave words to something in my heart lately.

Thoughts on Love

Love is active in our lives; He is working all things in my life towards this end.  This is the goal of His discipline, this is the goal of all trials in my life, and this is the goal of His personal leading in my life.  In all of these I can yield to my flesh – trying to retain control of my life so I can be comfortable, or I can walk with Jesus, denying myself and experiencing His life in me.