That I may know Him…

“How I want to be, Lord, just like You…and all the good things that I want to do.  Listen to my heart, Lord, yes it’s true…in everything I say, in everything I do, How I want to be, Lord, just like You.”

Jewish children (near exit of Western Wall area I think)

The words to this children’s song are simple and sound so good to sing or say with words.  And it is good.  In fact, I can fill my life with good works (which are in fact commanded by Jesus) which seemingly depict what He would do.   But it goes deeper than that.  My heart must be changed.  It must be washed with grace (the power and desire to do God’s will, or as Strong’s implies – the Divine influence upon the heart and it’s being reflected in the life).  If I am not truly changed inside – I could give all my goods to feed the poor (a good thing) and it profit me nothing.  And grace must be ministered to us continually – being multiplied for the many ways and times we need it – the inward desire to do what’s right and the power to carry it out.

What I am trying to say, is – how many times do I try to do the right things but fall short in my heart attitudes?  Am I allowing Jesus to in fact change me on the inside so that I WANT to do what’s right because of the Spirit working in me, and am not just trying to DO what’s right in my own strength.

Our tour group hiking near Tel Dan

It’s true that if we love Jesus, we will obey Him and keep His commandments.  But He also invites us to draw near to Him.

Am I truly coming to KNOW Him?

Seeking Him, finding Him, and knowing Him makes ALL the difference.  And it isn’t just head knowledge, it’s personal experience – it’s the knowing Him on the inside that brings peace and contentment and in fact victory – in Him.

Atop Mt. Carmel

I recently heard a two-part testimony given by Ravi Zacharias (here and here) that just moved me and inspired me to truly live out the life Christ called me to live.  How many times do I focus on the difficulties encountered in following Him, rather than on coming to know Who He is and embracing the life He has so freely given and the close relationship afforded?  Some good may come from those who choose to follow Him at a distance but I want to be up close – able to see His face which is all revealing of His purposes, compassion, delight, mercy, forgiveness, love, zeal, and yes even His anguish at my failures and anger at the wickedness prevalent in the world.

I am thinking now of the song,

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face.

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

Oh soul, are you weary and troubled?  No light in the darkness you see?

There’s light for a look at the Savior, and life more abundant and free.”

Through death into life everlasting He passed, and we follow Him there;
Over us sin no more hath dominion— For more than conquerors we are!

His Word shall not fail you—He promised; Believe Him, and all will be well:

Then go to a world that is dying, His perfect salvation to tell!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face.

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”

And also, this one (a chorus we sing at church)…

“Close to Thee, close to Thee, let me live every day close to Thee.

With Thy Holy Spirit guide me, in Thy pavilion hide me,

Let me live every day close to Thee.”

My brother, Andrew, walking the street where Jesus walked (next to the Temple Mount).

Close enough that I can feel Him, hear him, and as my brother, Andrew, mentioned in church last night, be guided by His eye (Psalm 32:8).  And not only as a servant is guided by a master but as a friend who is able to be confided in by my Greater Friend, closer than even a brother (John 15:14-15, Proverbs 18:24).

I have been reading  Left to Tell by Immaculée Ilibagiza, a survivor of the Rwandan Holocaust and how she came to know God in a much deeper way through the incredible terror, suffering, and loss she experienced losing all her immediate family (with the exception of one brother out of the country) and hiding for 91 days in a small bathroom with several other women enduring frequent threats (often audible and just beyond a few inches of plastered wall) of being discovered by killers.  Hardly able to speak and tormented with mental anguish, she cried out to God and was given great comfort and strength during those dark days and a greater love relationship with Him she had never had before.  In a video clip of her sharing her testimony she said she felt like she was “falling in love with Him” during that time.  It was because she drew near to Him in her hour of need and He responded.

Yes, I want to know God as it says in in Philippians 3:10.  The first part of that verse conveys our desire to know Him in the “power of His resurrection” speaks of might and miracles, but the part about knowing Him in the “fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death” requires us to know Him in ways that are often difficult.  However, the difference is we are sharing in them WITH Him and that makes all things possible and the result profitable – for us and others.

The Garden Tomb

What I want to convey through all I have said is this:

I want to be closer to Jesus and know Him more deeply.

Not just know more about Him, but know Him, the Man, Christ Jesus, in the relationship He has so graciously afforded me.

I don’t want to squander this opportunity.

May this be my heart’s cry and the cry of all who have heard of His fame.  Know Him.  Make Him yours.

I know we will never regret it.

Welcome 2012

Through 2011…

“Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” (I Samuel 7:12)

So let us call out to each other through the darkness, till the gloom becomes vocal with many voices, encouraging the pilgrim host. Let the echoes gather till a very storm of Hallelujahs break in thundering waves around the sapphire throne, and then as the morning breaks we shall find ourselves at the margin of the sea of glass, crying, with the redeemed host, “Blessing and honor and glory be unto him that sitteth on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever!” (Streams in the Desert excerpt)

Into 2012…

“The land whither ye go to possess it is a land of hills and valleys and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: a land which the Lord thy God careth for: the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.” (Deuteronomy 11:11-12) (Streams in the Desert excerpt)

May God grant us victory as we go forward to possess the land He has already given to be ours – the abundant life He has promised, the overcoming life and ultimate reward someday. The varied landscape replete with hills and valleys and comforting streams provides challenges, successes, lessons, discoveries, surprises, and consequently should produce growth. Growth that renews our minds with the mind of Christ, and spurs us on to higher ground.

(Photos from our fall vacation to the Smoky Mountains)