Thursday, April 23, 2015

Unseen > Seen

This past season has been about learning to rest in the rhythm of the chaos, finding joy in the daily, treasuring the eternal unseen above the temporary seen, and, in turn, trading in my worldview for truth. It's a beautiful gift, this mercy that's renewed every day... this grace that, in love, keeps revealing to my heart the scales on my eyes. 

Wholehearted devotion in the seen, whatever it may be He calls us to, paves the path for the glorious work of the unseen. The seen is rarely what we thought it'd be but, remaining faithful in it, we press on to greater depths in the unseen, the eternal.

Grateful that He is the one leading the way and working out the details. He is omniscient.

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might. Ecclesiastes 9:10 

Words: My Utmost for His Highest, 4/23, Oswald Chambers
Photo: December 2014, Flume Trail, NV 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Cheap vs Costly

"Grace" as doctrine, principle, system, law, legalistic rules. A cheap covering of sin, where no real change is necessarily. It is the justification of sin, but not the sinner. It is not the kind of forgiveness of sin that frees us from the toils of sin. It is the grace we bestow on ourselves. It is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus. Cheap grace is not grace at all.

It is the treasure hidden in the field, for which a man would gladly sell all he has in order to attain it. It is the call of Jesus at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows.

"Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again + again
the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock."

"Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow. It is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of His son, 'ye were bought at a price,' and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God didn't reckon His son too dear a price to pay for our life."

Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus--it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. It is costly because it compels a man to lay down and forget his burden and submit to the yolk of Christ. Costly grace calls us to come and die to self to truly live for Christ.

"Happy are the simple followers of Jesus Christ who have been overcome by His grace, and are able to sing the praises of the all-sufficient grace of Christ with humbleness of heart. Happy are they who, knowing that grace, can live in the world without being of it, who, by following Jesus Christ, are so assured of their heavenly citizenship that they are truly free to live their lives in this world. Happy are they who know that discipleship simply means the life which spring forms grace, and that grace simple means discipleship. Happy are they who have become Christians in this sense of the Word. For them, the word of grace has proved a fount of mercy."

all notes + quotes from:
The Cost of Discipleship, Chapter 1 "Costly Grace"
by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

40 Days + 100 Miles

100 miles in 40 days was a personal journey I started on August 2nd and finished on September 10th.

I am by no means a runner. I enjoy the thought of having run, but never really enjoyed the actual running part.

Regardless, I wanted to challenge myself physically, and more so, personally—to go on a 100 mile long adventure alone with the Lord.

Some things I learned throughout the 40 days:


This is a tree I saw on a run. A massive tree.

The picture doesn’t show it well, but the root portion of this tree was taller than me—probably 10 feet in diameter. The tree itself was probably 24-30 inches thick, too. This tree was planted about 10 yards from a rushing stream. But a storm must’ve come that was stronger than it’s roots. And this massive, seemingly healthy, tall tree… fallen. On most days, after I was 2 miles into my run, my focus moved from physically keeping up to the mental challenge of enduring. The physically part shifted to rhythm as running went from being something new to habit. The battle shifted from body to mind. If I had plans to be somewhere after my run, I'd catch myself constantly checking the time. Even though I was pretty intentional about this being a journey of solitude, a text or work email would often still distract me (solution: turn it off). The point is, life is full of distractions. Distractions from what is really important. It is easy to go through the motions and not really live with intent. It is easy to chase an image of what I really want to be like, even as a believer. It is easy for my eyes to shift from Jesus to the kind of person I hope to become. At the end of the day, I may look like a person who loves Jesus because I worked so hard towards being a person who looked like I did. But along the way, my eyes have shifted from Jesus to me. I became my own idol. And like the tree above, my roots are shallow and my foundation only as strong as the weakest storm before me. I resolve to keep my eyes on Jesus.


There was one night when I planned on a 5 mile run. I got to 5 miles and decided to keep going another 1/2 mile to round out a couple of shorter runs. When I got to 5.5, I was feeling great and decided to keep going until I hit 6 miles (which was, at that point, the furthest distance I’ve ran). It was a simple decision, but God spoke so clearly to me during that last 1/2 mile. He opened my eyes to how so often in life, that is me. Setting a standard for myself (and in the long run, for others, as well) that is higher than required… which seems like a great and ambitious idea. But the problem is that when I don’t reach that standard, I immediately feel an incredible sense of failure and disappointment in self—I take on these things that I was never meant to hold or carry. In hindsight, the really alarming thing about living with my focus on my performance is that at the end of the day, my eyes are on me and off of Jesus, and I am adding to grace, discounting the work of Jesus on the cross and adding my own requirements to what it is I feel is “enough.” 

There is freedom in grace. Freedom to cease from all striving. Freedom to let go and let God. Freedom to be still and know that He is God. Freedom to rest in the truth that Jesus paid it all. IT IS FINISHED. Eyes opened. My heart free. Grateful.

// FEAR // 

The last week of my challenge and on my longest run (8 miles), I encountered my biggest fear. A 6ft long, slithery + slimy creature. Y’all... It was terrifying. I did what I always imagined I’d do if I encountered a snake. I froze, my heart pounding more fiercely than on any other part of the run. I stood frozen until the creature disappeared into the brush. And then I ran. Fast. 

One thing I learned that day is that the further we go, the further we push ourselves in whatever it may be—dreams, a skill,  relationships, whatever—the more we will need to face our personal fears head on. Fear is powerful. It has the capability to paralyze us and completely halt the journey. It has the capability to make us stop, turn around, and run back the way we came from as fast as we can. But, fear also gives us the opportunity to overcome it. To get over it. To get past it. To trust in the love that is unfearful. To let perfect love cast all of it out. Sometimes we will need to stop, wait, and gather courage—but we can ALWAYS overcome it. And we’ll only be stronger because of it.


Around mile 90, I pulled a muscle in my right leg. I don’t quite remember when, but I suspect it was when I was running away from the serpent. (Haha). Because of the muscle, the last 10 miles of my journey were by far the slowest and most painful. I didn’t have the time to take it easy and let the muscle heal. Not completing the 100 miles in 40 days was also not an option. So I set out, feeling a twinge of pain in every step and bright victory in every mile completed. That’s life sometimes: slower and more painful than we’d planned for or hoped. But the victory lies in getting out there, moving forward, getting it done. The last 10% of anything worthwhile is sometimes 90x harder than the first 90%. Press through. It’s worth it.


When I decided to do embark on this journey, I knew it was an impossible task. Again... not a runner. I think I’ve run maybe 100 miles total in all of my life combined before this challenge. But I know that the impossible is possible when we trust in the One who makes it so. With Him, the impossible = possible. And that’s the only way I could complete these 100 miles. With Him. Moving forward with so much hope and confidence that He is faithful and that He will do through me the impossible that He calls me to. I know I cannot do it. But He can, through me, when I open my hands and surrender to His ways. And the sweetest thing about it all is that He was so near. He is near in our victories and in our weaknesses. He is with us in the brightest moments and in the hardest ones. He is near. And in His mercy, He shifts our hearts towards His. Even through running.

* * * * *

Grateful for this journey. It was as much a physical challenge as it was a spiritual journey. An intentional journey of solitude with the Lord. God is so good. He is so kind, merciful, and patient to remind me of truth again and again when my heart needs reminding.

I took the following photo on the first day of this journey.

This photo is such a representation of life to me. Life - full of seasons. Characteristically, seasons can be fun, full of waiting, too busy, painful, etc. Sometimes life is like still water - and He sustains us in that. This season is often full of joy in the present, expectancy for the future. And sometimes, life is like a crashing waterfall - where you can't really tell which way is up, but you're moving fast, tumbling along the way. In both seasons, God sustains. It reminds me of a quote my friend recently shared with me - "He is both the anchor and the wind." He is the source of the turbulence and He is the One that stills it, too.

Grateful that He speaks through church, sermons, people, nature and adventures, like these. Mostly, just grateful that He considers my heart something worth working on. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014


This is grace.
Words: johnnyswim, "Hallelujah."

Sunday, August 17, 2014

It Is Finished.

The gospel is an announcement that Christ has already done it, that the victory is won. It's something that is complete. There's nothing left for us to do. Jesus paid it ALL. The battle is already won. The gospel announces that the determining factor in my relationship with God is Jesus' work for me, NOT my work for Him. It's His performance for me, not my performance for Him. -Tullian Tchividjian