my search to understand the bigger picture

Monday, April 30, 2012

VOTD-April 30

John 17:3

"And this is the real and eternal life: That they know you, the one and only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you sent."

what else could be better!  we have an invitation to know God!  sometimes the simplicity of this just astounds me.  just sort of sitting here in awe right now, thinking about the reality of this.  God's desire is that I know him, that you know him.  the beauty of this is beyond words.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

VOTD-April 29

I Corinthians 9:24-27

"You've all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race.  Everyone runs; one wins.  Run to win.  All good athletes train hard.  They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades.  You're after one that's gold eternally.  I don't know about you, but I'm running hard for the finish line.  I'm giving it everything I've got.  No sloppy living for me!  I'm staying alert and in top condition.  I'm not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself."

such a good word considering the illinois marathon just occurred.  running has taught me so much about life, especially when life gets hard.  it's taught me the importance of a positive attitude (remembering God's truths), proper perspective, patience, perseverance, putting one foot in front of the other.  so many good parallels.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

VOTD-April 28

Isaiah 40:31

"But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.  They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint."

a great verse for race day.  ran the illinois marathon today.  ran with a friend, trying to get him in under 5 hours.  didn't quite accomplish that, but we did get him a PR by 5-6 minutes!  he gave it all, and left it all out there.  so proud of that stud.  

Friday, April 27, 2012

VOTD-April 27

Isaiah 40:27-30

"Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying, 'God has lost track of me.  He doesn't care what happens to me'?  Don't you know anything?  Haven't you been listening?  God doesn't come and go.  God lasts.  He's Creator of all you can see or imagine.  He doesn't get tired out, doesn't pause to catch his breath.  And he knows everything, inside and out.  He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts.  For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall."

aren't we so quick to just assume God doesn't care when the slightest thing goes wrong?  how far off the mark we are in those moments.  we expect and easy, laid back life.  how quickly we forget there's an enemy out there, seeking to destroy us.  no, God doesn't forget.  he lasts.  he orchestrates only that which is good.  unfortunately we tend to take out our frustrations on those we love and that are closest to us, and God is no exception.  how this must hurt God when we "blame" Him for things he is not responsible for.  let's change our perspective friends.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

VOTD-April 26

Proverbs 14:28

"The mark of a good leader is loyal followers; leadership is nothing without a following."

very interesting statement.  so much packed into such a seemingly simple statement.

"Die Living"

You gotta check this video out.  Notice the phrase on the back of the guy's seat.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

VOTD-April 25

Provers 29:21

"If you let people treat you like a doormat, you'll be quite forgotten in the end."

this verse has struck a chord with me today.  look out world!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

VOTD-April 24

Mark 10:43-45

"Whoever wants to be great must become a servant.  Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave.  That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not to be served--and then to give away his life in exchange for many who are held hostage."

too many times i live my life upside down from the example christ set.  i focus on my desires to be served.  this is a great word for me today, a great challenge to consider others.

Monday, April 23, 2012

VOTD-April 23

Matthew 11:28-30

"Are you tired?  Worn out?  Burned out on religion?  Come to me.  Get away with me and you'll recover your life.  I'll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me--watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

i don't know about you, but this sounds pretty good to me.  one portion that really stands out to me today is, "Learn the unforced rhythms of grace."  that word unforced is so powerful.  yes, this is good stuff for today.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

VOTD-April 22

Proverbs 11:14

"Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances."

i've been stuck in the book of Proverbs for the past few days, and have been reminded of some great stuff.    i wholeheartedly agree that wise counsel is always good to search out.  however, my struggle is that i tend to search for approval from others, instead of trusting God.  there was one difficult decision in particular that took me almost a year to finally trust God with, and obey what i felt him asking me to do.  that was a rough year.  freedom came almost immediately when i obeyed.  i had sought out what i thought to be wise counsel.  but it wasn't until i obeyed that things turned for the better.  so i suppose there is always a good balance to be had here.  there's no substitute for action and obedience though.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

VOTD-April 21

Proverbs 28:9

"God has no use for the prayers of the people who won't listen to him."

Short, sweet, and to the point.  Well, maybe not sweet.  But honest at least.  Honesty is always good.

Friday, April 20, 2012

VOTD-April 20

Psalm 36:5-6

"God's love is meteoric, his loyalty astronomic, his purpose titanic, his verdicts oceanic.  Yet in his largeness nothing gets lost; not a man, not a mouse, slips through the cracks"

i love this about God.  he's got the big picture in mind, but never forgets the tiniest of details.  just amazing.  it's comforting to know he sees everything, from every angle and perspective, and balances it all perfectly.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

VOTD-April 19

Psalm 19:1-3

"The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech, and night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard."

This verse reminds me of the two mornings I've run this week. I began while it was still dark, and got to watch the sun rise and majestic colors bounce off clouds and small ponds as I ran. It was breathtaking. The sheer beauty of God's creation is enough to make you stop, and wish you spent more time enjoying it. I love that God's creation is always welcoming; never gives us a hard time if it's been awhile since our last visit. His beauty and skill is simply astounding. Words simply do not do justice. If it's been awhile, take some time this weekend. Just look at the stars. Watch a sunrise or sunset. Watch how everything becomes greener and brighter in a good thunderstorm.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

VOTD-April 18

Proverbs 3:27-28

"Never walk away from someone who deserves help; your hand is God's hand for that person. Don't tell your neighbor, 'Maybe some other time,' or, 'Try me tomorrow,' when the money's right there in your pocket."

i've noticed that many times, we are so concerned with being taken advantage of, that we neglect tons of opportunities to be a blessing to people. we forget that our purpose is to share the love of Christ with others. we don't lack opportunity, we lack the courage to act.

be courageous today. act on your instincts. do something for someone else today.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

VOTD-April 17

Zephaniah 3:17

"The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

many words speak to me in this verse. but one phrase stood out to me today.








this still comes as a great relief to me. god takes great delight in me! how powerful is that! the god that created the universe, sunrises, mountains, etc, takes great delight in me.

let that soak in for a bit.

Monday, April 16, 2012

VOTD-April 16

Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

"Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus."

Sunday, April 15, 2012

VOTD-April 15

Psalm 31:24

"Be brave. Be strong. Don't give up. Expect God to get here soon."

I've had a number of friends recently with whom I could have shared this. Tonight I find it has perfect application for me. Sometimes all we can do is hold on for dear life. Sometimes the most courageous thing we can do is to not give up.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

VOTD-April 14

Ezekiel 47:9

"Where the river flows, life abounds."

Now I'm not about to overdo my thoughts on this verse, or attempt to make it say something it's not. Heck, I didn't even read the verses around it to get an idea of the context in which it was shared. All I know, is that this verse caught my attention. Upon reading this I immediately had flashbacks of all sorts of amazing times involving water. Joyful times. Times that made me feel happy to be alive.

  • Hundreds of times playing beach volleyball near Lake Michigan
  • Camping with my family at Holland State Park beach
  • Kayaking
  • Aunt Monty's cottage
  • Camping out in college at Salamonie Resevoir
  • Staying at a friend's cottage near Lake Michigan
  • Trail running near rivers
Wow, those times really brought life. There's something about being around bodies of water that just brings an almost unexplainable joy. Good memories today because of this verse.

Friday, April 13, 2012

VOTD-April 13

Psalm 18:16-24

"But me he caught-reached all the way from sky to sea; he pulled me out of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos, the void in which I was drowning. They hit me when I was down, but God stuck by me. He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved--surprised to be loved! God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him. When I got my act together, he gave me a fresh start. Now I'm alert to God's ways; I don't take God for granted. Every day I review the ways he works; I try not to miss a trick. I feel put back together, and I'm watching my step. God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes."

i was skimming through my Bible this afternoon, looking to see if something I had previously highlighted caught my attention. eventually my eyes fell upon this passage. one line in particular struck a nerve in me..........."I don't take God for granted". bullseye. boy this feels like the understatement of the year. God is always there for me, promised to never leave me or forsake me. promised to take my hand when i don't know the way. how often do i let him? how often do i notice his presence? hmmmmmmm, forgive me father, for failing to notice your goodness, faithfulness, and love. thank you for sticking by me, even when i fail to acknowledge you. thanks for your patience. you model everything you ask of us. thank you for that. thank you for everything.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

VOTD-April 12

John 13:34-35

"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples-when they see the love you have for each other."

It really is a shame how much we hate on each other. Christians that is. Not only different denominations, but even within our own denominations and churches. We gossip. We slander. We talk behind each other's back. Ever stop to think how sick and twisted that is?

Jesus said everyone will recognize that we belong to Him by the way we treat each other. Hmmmmm, it's no wonder the world thinks what they do about Christians. It's no wonder they think that way about me.

And this is where I think many of us miss the boat. We feel a moral obligation to speak truth into everyone's lives, instead of speaking love into their lives. Think about this for a moment, do people need truth, or love? Ok, they need both. But which should come first? I submit to you, that until we love people, they will never want to hear the "truth" you so desperately want to share with them.

While we are at it, why do you feel the need to "correct" people anyways? Did Jesus ever commission you to do that? Did he do that? He did with the religious leaders who should have known better. But did He with the everyday Mary Jane?

He says it right here, "Love one another".

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

VOTD-April 11

James 1:21-24

"In simply humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life. Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don't act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like."

I love the book of James. It's chock full of good stuff. But I really love this book because it challenges me so. This passage in particular challenges me greatly. Too often I fool myself into believing I'm doing alright. But God has other things in mind. I'm so thankful for His constant pruning and attention. That means He wants more for me. He wants me to be the creation He originally had in mind. That means I must act on what He teaches me. No small task, but that's when true transformation occurs.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

VOTD-April 10

John 4:23-24

"It's who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That's the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself--Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very own being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Too Funny Not To Post Here

Growing up in Michigan, there's always going to be a part of me that feels at home there. It's not that I don't enjoy living in Illinois now; just that being my place of birth, Michigan will always hold a special place in my heart. My family is still there, and many friends and memories. Illinois is now my home, and I'm grateful for so many memories here. I met my wife, both my daughters born here, met so many awesome friends and people, where I began to run on a serious level. In an effort to help my non-Michigan friends and family understand me better, thought I'd share this website I came across today.

It's a great inside look into the Michigan accent and vocabulary. Enjoy.

VOTD-April 9

Today's passage comes from Revelation 3:8-12 out of The Message.

"I see what you've done. Now see what I've done. I've opened a door before you that no one can slam shut. You don't have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn't deny me when times were rough. And watch as I take those who call themselves true believers but are nothing of the kind, pretenders whose true membership is in the club of Satan--watch as I strip off their pretensions and they're forced to acknowledge it's you that I've loved. Because you kept my Word in passionate patience, I'll keep you safe in the time of testing that will be here soon, and all over the earth, every man, woman, and child put to the test."

Another passage that has brought me comfort at different times. Also a humbling portion in the middle. I never want to be a pretender. I am far from perfect. But I don't want my open book life to be confused with hypocrisy. I don't have it all figured out, and even the few things I do have figured out, I'm not always the best at living in that understanding. But I try. I'm trying to give 110% to Jesus. How about you?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

VOTD-April 8-Easter Sunday

I was challenged by this verse today. It's my hope that it does the same to you. I Samuel 16:7.

"But God told Samuel, 'Looks aren't everything. Don't be impressed with his looks and stature. I've already eliminated him. God judges persons differently than humans do. Men and women look at the face; God looks into the heart."

Saturday, April 7, 2012

VOTD-April 7

"But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer."

Luke 5:16. I was reminded of this yesterday, as I took the girls to play at a local park. There's a lake there, and about 10 miles worth of trails. I love this verse, and notice 3 distinct words that stand out to me.

  • Often. Jesus did this often enough for the author to note it. I wish the same could be said for me.
  • Wilderness. I fully believe it's beneficial to get out in nature, especially this day and age to get away from the distractions of cell phones, internet, and people.But really, the word wilderness to me brings to mind that Jesus simply got away from everything. Removed himself from any and all distractions.
  • Prayer. These times had a purpose. Jesus went to hang out with his Father. I think that's important to keep in mind.

Today is a special day because my parents are celebrating their 40th anniversary! My heart breaks because we couldn't celebrate with
them in person. But I can't speak highly enough of them, and their commitment to each other. They have been committed for a long time, to make their marriage mutually beneficial, and they serve each other

like few couples I've ever seen. To say they've set a great example for me does not do it justice.

Last night I went and got my first running related tattoo. Here's a pic:

The letters stand for Is The Prize Not Worth The Price. Deep meaning for me both in running, and in life. The skeleton foot and battered wing, that's not all there anymore represents how I feel after ultras, and sometimes life. But the prize far out ways the price it requires to get there!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Awesome day at Homer Lake

Had a great time with my daughters today at Homer Lake, and had a friend and his two daughters meet us as well! The girls all had a blast playing together. My friend and I had a blast catching up on life, and talking mostly about running (he's got his first 50k trail race coming up). Had some lunch at the park, then he took off, and I took my girls ona little hike. Was awesome to talk to them about Jesus making creation, how awesome all the colors are. Even got to point out a snake to them while hiking. And there was no way I could keepthem from running the trails. Daddy's girls for sure! Thankfully, that's one of the few qualities they got from me! Most of the good stuff comes from their mom. Here's a few pics:

VOTD-April 6

This passage from Isaiah got me thinking about Good Friday, since it is Good Friday, and the price Jesus paid for me.

"But now, God's Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob, the One who got you started, Israel: 'Don't be afraid, I've redeemed you. I've called your name. You're mine. When you're in over your head, I'll be there with you. When you're in rough waters, you will not go down. When you're between a rock and a hard place, it won't be a dead end--Because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That's how much you mean to me! That's how much I love you! I'd sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you."

You know, one would think that the fact that Jesus gave his life for me would cause more loyalty on my part. All too often my actions do not line up with my words. There's too much of a disconnect there. I'm such a visual person, and I think too many it's difficult for me to comprehend because I didn't actually see Jesus up on the cross in person. I remember the first time I watched The Passion, at a pre release screening at Willow Creek and listened to Bill Hybels interview Mel Gibson. That was quite shocking. But these are simply excuses. I claim to love Jesus. Thus, if I truly do love Him, my actions will reflect that. For some reason, the thought is stuck in my head that because of the sacrifice Jesus made, I've got to earn that gift. But that's so wrong. There's nothing to earn! Jesus freely gave this gift. All there's left to do is accept it, and live in that reality.

So, today I reflect with tremendous thanksgiving on what exactly Jesus went through for me. I recommit my love to Jesus today, in word and action. I recommit myself to developing a relationship with Him.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

VOTD-April 5

Today's pick comes out of James 4:7-10 from The Message.

"So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he'll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it's the only way you'll get on your feet."

I love the portion that says, "Get serious, really serious." That has struck a chord with me for a long time. It's a good reminder to keep in front of myself. I get so bogged down in doing sometimes, I simply forget to be. Sometimes I just want to stop and be with God. That's serious business right there.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

VOTD-April 4

"No one who hopes in me ever regrets it."

Isaiah 49:23

While life has had many ups and downs, I've never regretted my relationship with Jesus. I love you Jesus!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

VOTD-April 3

I'm cheating a little bit today. Today's choice actually has 8 verses. I could have narrowed it down to 1, but this is all so good.

Proverbs 3:5-12

"Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track. Don't assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best. Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over. But don't, dear friend, resent God's discipline; don't sulk under his loving correction. It's the child he loves that God corrects; a father's delight is behind all this."

So many good things packed in here. In an effort to keep this post short, I'd love to hear from you! What stands out to you in these verses?

Monday, April 2, 2012

VOTD-April 2

Today's verse of the day again comes from the book of Isaiah. I could easily just spend the next 30 days taking favorite verses from Isaiah. It's probably one of my favorite books of the Bible.

Anyways, Isaiah 58:12 "You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You'll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again."

I think in many ways I'm still trying to figure out what is in the verse that grabs my attention. There are some things God has been speaking to my heart through this verse for awhile now, but I don't believe He is done with it just yet. I will never forget when this chapter first really grabbed my heart. What a special moment that was. Love those intimate times when God truly opens my eyes to something that's always been there, yet escaped my notice. Thank you Holy Spirit for those tender moments.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Verse of the Day-April 1

In an effort to dive a little deeper into my Bible, and applying it to my life, I've decided to post a verse of the day every day in the month of April here. Sometimes I may leave some thoughts regarding the text, other times I will let it speak for itself.

Today's text has been my favorite for 4-5 years now. It's found in Isaiah 42:16. I've read it so much in The Message that my Bible actually just falls open to it.

"But I'll take the hand of those who don't know the way, who can't see where they're going. I'll be a personal guide to them, directing them through unknown country. I'll be right there to show them what roads to take, make sure they don't fall into the ditch. These are the things I'll be doing for them--sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute."

This passage speaks to me on so many different levels. I love the imagery of outdoor adventure guide type stuff. I love the thought of being so close to God, especially in times of confusion, that he takes our hand. I love the promise at the end, that He'll never leave us for a minute! That's powerful!