The 3 “R”s Of Receiving From God

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God has prepared an unique process to mold you in His love. Here’s 3 “R”s to receive more from Him, as you walk upon this path.

Last week, I shared a little from my journey into facing my issues and learning to receive love from God. (Click here to read it.) My behaviors were extreme, but I’m not alone. Many of us live as prisoners to our emotional wounds. We’ve become “functional” in our prison. Much like a “functional alcoholic”, we sort of get by, but we’re not free. And the reason we stay bound? Well, facing the pain is just that… PAINFUL! It requires courage to face the proverbial man-in-the-mirror. But as Christians, God has called to spiritual growth and freedom.

Here’s the reality: God will test our hearts. It’s what He does. If you walk with God long enough, He’s gonna to get there. Proverbs 17:3 says it like this, “Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but the Lord tests the heart.”

So we might as well go ahead and be like David, and say, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts” (Psalm 139:23). As we make this our prayer, I believe God sets us on a path into wholeness and love.

Last week, I mentioned at one point God led me to see a clinical psychologist and how she confirmed somethings for me. I don’t think everybody has to go to therapy, but I do believe if you set your heart after God, pray like David prayed, and obey His leading, He’ll direct your steps—ordering appointed seasons and “divine set-ups” to craft you and mold you in His love. Before you were born, He designed a “you-specific” process to build you on His love, victory, and freedom.

Along my thirteen-year journey with God, here are three things He has shown me about learning to receive from Him:

  1. Realize Everybody is messed up

When we start to face the proverbial man-in-the-mirror, it’s tempting to be overwhelmed. Shame whispers in our ear, “Oh man, there’s something so wrong with you!”. But shame is twisting the truth. Yes, there’s something wrong with you, but there’s something wrong with everybody: it’s called sin! You see, the enemy wants us to think there’s something ESPECIALLY wrong with us. In other words, he wants us to believe we’re beyond God’s love. But true faith says, “I’m no better than anybody… but I’m also not worse than anybody either. I am what I am. My value and worth come from God.”

2. Remove the Mask

We wear masks because we don’t practice Number 1. For some strange reason, we secretly think other people don’t struggle like us, or have problems. It’s the “grass-is-greener” syndrome. In our modern times, one main reason we fall into this “stinking thinking” is that compare our messy lives with other people’s Instagram and Facebook posts. So we put up a front. We pretend and hide. But God has called us to let down the mask. Especially with Him! We need to get real and allow Him to look upon the real us. That’s the only way we can receive His love.

3. Receive Revelation from the Word

We need to go to His Word. This is where decision and willpower come into play. No one can study the Bible for me, I must dig into the Word for myself. I must find out what He says about me. I must confess what He says about me. I must begin to speak the right words—His Word—over my life. And as I pray, and seek, and confess, and meditate on what He has said, I start to receive revelation from the Word. The Bible goes from information to revelation, and gets down into my heart.

The NEED to be loved

We love, because He first loved us.

-1 John 4:19 

I’m convinced that on the inside of every one of us is a need to be loved.

I believe it’s a basic human need. As real as our need for food or water or anything else. We humans crave acceptance,  affirmation, and a sense of security for our souls. God created us this way. He designed us with a drive to be valued, cared for, and esteemed. We want something or someone to tell us we’re good enough. That we are validated. It’s like we’re desperate to hear, “This person is valuable; this person is worthy of love”.

It’s why we all want to achieve some level of significance and purpose for our lives: we want to ascribe value to ourselves by belonging to someone or something great.

If you look at the world today, I think it’s a lot like the old country song says:

We’re “looking for love in all the wrong places”.

We run after affirmation in the form of money, success, alcohol, food, romantic relationships, Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. As crazy as it sounds, we can even run to religion, without running to God. I would define being “religious” as “about God without God”. Driven by shame, religion performs for God. But it never receives from God.

We’re running to dry, empty wells—things that cannot ultimately satisfy.

I have seen this in my own life. I was enslaved to people’s opinions—and terrified by their disapproval. If enough people could like me—if enough people could validate me, then I would be something. I would have significance.

My identity was so tightly locked into what other people thought of me because my self-image was shattered. Like, I am talking it was extreme. I was violently tossed to and fro by the waves of human opinion. One harsh word. One weird look. Even the thought of someone possibly not liking me could totally ruin my day. I even cared about the opinions of people I didn’t even like! (Have you ever been there? How silly is this, huh?)

I was terrified of what people thought about me. I may have seemed like a confident club DJ on the outside, but on the inside I was desperate for love and affirmation. Like many people, I carried around a broken record player in my head,

“There’s something wrong with you. There’s something wrong with you. There’s something wrong with you…”

The inner critic, my constant companion. This self-loathing and embarrassment would fade if I experienced some success, or my “approval tank” was full. It was like a high! But a public failure, a single slight, or a disapproving look would cause the voice to flare up again:

“Ah, you see, AJ! You were right! There’s something wrong with you. There’s something wrong with you. There’s something wrong with you…”

I was running to empty wells. People and their opinions make for a poor god.

But let me ask you: what are you running to?

Romans 5:8 says this,

God demonstrates and clearly proves His own love for us in this, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us”.

Jesus is God’s overwhelming affirmation towards us! The Cross is God’s invitation to you. Receive His love for you today.

His opinion of you will become louder than any other voice in your life! His great and surpassing love will become a tangible reality in your life! If you will seek Him, and open up your heart to Him, He will show you His powerful love. It’s a love that never fails. And it becomes an unstoppable force in your life and overflows as grace and strength for successful living.

I’ve seen this in my own life. I share about what I’ve seen and what I know. I am not where I need to be… but thank God I am not where I used to be! I can still slide into manpleasing, but I’ve come to know one thing:

the love displayed at the Cross is real. And it’s for YOU!

PRAYER:

Father, thank You that you love me. Thank you that you affirm me in Christ.

Father, I entrust my heart to You. I turn away from any fake gods in my life.

I want to know Your love for myself.

Lead me deeper into Your great and surpassing love.

Allow Your love to become a tangible reality in my life.

Let me receive mercy, so that I can show mercy.

Father, I believe God loves _______(your name).

 

A Tribute to the Father

A TRIBUTE TO THE FATHER

As Father’s Day approaches, we take time to remember the fathers in our life. We take a day to honor the role that fathers play in our society, and we celebrate the men who work so hard to provide and love us.

But for many, all this father talk can be hard to bear. It only brings up painful memories we’d rather keep buried. Some of us have lost fathers. Others have had ugly falling outs with their dads. Some fathers, we never knew. And some we wish we never had known. For a wide range of reasons, many of us will not be buying a father’s day card this year.

I’m in this boat: I lost my father at 19 years old. I thank God I was saved through watching my dad’s powerful conversion, but I never had a chance to build a real relationship with him before he died. He was a very closed-off man. I don’t hold this against him—my dad never had a father himself. Growing up near the famous 8-mile road in Detroit, Michigan, he learned to rely on himself. The man worked hard to give a better life to his sons; but he never learned how to show love.

Looking back, I can see a handful of times where my dad made attempts to build a relationship with me, but I too had become severely closed off. Eventually he gave up on me all together—he was very vocal about this, and made it a joke (everybody knew my dad for his biting sense of humor), saying I was too “artsy” for him.

Why are we so easily hurt by fathers?

Even people who grew up in a loving home can carry wounds from fathers who fell short to provide the care and affirmation we needed.

How can unintentional neglect or one harsh word cause such pain?

I think it’s because human beings have an intense need for love, affirmation, attention, and care. It’s a need—a bonafide, legitimate need—just as real as our need for food or water or air.

Both Psychology and Neuroscience have identified the importance of this basic need in human beings. Studying brain development from babyhood into adulthood, scientists have built an entire theory around it called the “Attachment Theory”. You should check out the research—it’s fascinating—but I’ll boil it down for you in one sentence: the human psyche is literally built on love and care.

I’m talking LITERALLY. Not in some far off spiritual sense. I am talking neurons and physiology and brain stems and stuff like that. Our brains physically grow strong and healthy through love and affirmation from others. Even a picture of a smiling face will light up a baby’s brain on a brain scan. And our brains stay willing to respond to love; adult brains well into their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s who suffered neglect and abuse as children—called “attachment trauma”—have been shown to resume healthy brain growth in response to love and affirmation.

We all need love!

And this leads me back to fathers. Can you see the importance of fathers in society? Can you see the potential for a father to meet this need? The sheer power a father has to bless or curse a child? The importance of a father cannot be over emphasized. There is nothing like the care and attention of a father.

If you’re a father, let me encourage you: there could be no higher purpose—no more noble of a call—then to showcase the love of a father to those around you. To shower your kids (and your wife) with love! There is no role like yours on planet earth! You cannot be replaced! Your words cannot be replaced! You’ve been given a supreme honor—a great privilege and responsibility—to stand and represent the Heavenly Father to your kids. Any words of encouragement you give will sink deep down into their hearts, and become cement for their souls, creating a strong foundation for them to stand on for the rest of their lives.

But how do we father someone when we never had a father ourselves? Or maybe you’re a single-mother—is all hope lost for you?

No! God takes your situation personal! He rises up and declares,

“And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” 2 Cor 6:18 ESV

So now we can say,

“For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.” Psalm 27:10 ESV

My life is a testament of this. My father died, and a few years later I was cursed and cut off by my mother. I felt like I had nothing. Just pain and brokenness and fear. I still remember lying in my studio apartment in Gainesville months before graduating college frozen in fear—terrified of the future, overwhelmed by the feeling of being alone and powerless.

But in my suffering, I was found by the One who suffered for us all!

Tweet: But in my suffering, I was found by the One who suffered for us all!

Like a nobleman beckoning an orphan off the street, He called my name. Smiling and wavering a nail-pierced hand, He said,

“Weary one, come! Do you not know My Father is a father to the fatherless? Take heart; He will surely receive you. Come to me, and I will give you rest.”

So on this Father’s Day, I want to speak on behalf of Heaven and say to you:

If you’ve never had a good father—if you’re an orphan-at-heart—you are blessed!

Why? Because God takes your situation personally. He will not stand for it. He has pronounced Himself a defender of orphans and widows. He will come, and make Himself real to you. He’ll pour out an extra measure of grace, blessing and revelation onto you for all your troubles. You will come to know for yourself how great His love is.

When God comforts you—when God steps in to love you— it becomes a witness for all to see! Yes, you will be blessed! Because if God fixes something, don’t you know it’s ends up better than if it had never been broken at all?

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

The Man on the Bus

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by AJ Hall

The people were amazed at His teaching, because He [Jesus] taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.”

Mark 1:22 


I sat down on the bus after a long day of classes. It was my first semester at the University of Florida and I hadn’t been sleeping well. My father was dying. And this harsh reality did not make adjusting to freshman year any easier. Drugs and alcohol whisked me away at night. But grief visited me again each day. I was really hurting. I think I might have smoked my weight in cigarettes that day, as I attempted to be a good student and stay for all my classes.

I had always been a hardcore partier, and extremely compulsive, but my current state of depression caused me to be over the top with my addictions.

The bus was crowded. People kept pouring in. I noticed a young African-American man sit down in the row in front of me. Psychologists say you size-up and form an opinion about someone within seconds of meeting them. For this guy, I thought he looked fairly cool—sort of a successful type dude, maybe somebody I could relate too. I don’t know why I remember thinking this. But he struck me as cool.

My initial impression of the man made what happened next all the more unbelievable. Moments into our bus ride, this guy turns around and looks at me. He looked a little nervous. He said,

“Hey man, I don’t normally do this. I am not trying to be weird or anything. But I feel like I need to tell you: ‘God loves you'”

Now, let me stop right here and say something: if you’re a Christian, you’ve probably heard that statement a thousand times. To you, “God loves you” might even seem played out. But these words were anything but cliche to me. I hadn’t grown up around Evangelical Christianity. I had never heard anything like that before. Nor had I ever heard somebody use “God talk” with such conviction.

There was something about this young man. Something genuine. More than his words, it was the way he said it—this intangible, yet very felt, dynamic behind his words. Like a power of some kind.

I imagine this is what the Bible is speaking about when it says…


The people were amazed at His teaching, because He [Jesus] taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law.”

Mark 1:22 


 

I was deeply impacted by the kindness shown to me by this young man. I’ve always been a pretty open book, so I quickly went into my dad’s situation. I told him all about the religious stuff my dad was experiencing. I told him how my family had been telling me all about it. And how I believed in God too. Then for some strange reason I blurted out:

“I know God loves me. And that’s why I think it’s no big deal to sin, you know? I mean God loves me, so I don’t think sin is that big of a deal.”

No joke. That’s what I said.

This young man was so gentle with me. He just smiled. And without skipping a beat, he said:

“Yea, God still loves you. But He doesn’t want you to sin, because sin keeps you apart from Him. And He wants you close.”

Mind-blown. I sat there speechless. What a revolutionary concept! I had never thought about it like that before: sin had a practical impact on my life. This was life-altering revelation!

My self-justification had fallen flat. Love had prevailed. I didn’t say another word.

Then the young man asked if he could pray for my dad and proceeded to pray—I had never heard anyone pray like this. He actually sounded like he was talking to somebody. It sounded like music to me—I was struck by the rhythm, and the way he referred to God as “Father God”.

Then it dawned on me: he was praying on a public bus. Not only that! A public bus packed with high-minded college students! This dude went from the unbelievable to the unthinkable.

I started to feel the looks. I could just imagine the other students sitting there rolling their eyes at this archaic display of mysticism, their “Da Vinci Code” books open in their laps.

As soon as he finished praying, the bus reached his stop. As he stood up to leave, I seriously considered whether or not this guy was an angel. I had seen enough movies to know that’s what angels do: when they’re done doing their thing, they stand up and leave all smooth like. And this guy sort of had a Denzel Washington thing going on…

Okay, so upon later consideration I’ve decided this guy most likely wasn’t an angel. He was probably just a fellow college student being obedient to God’s leading.

And that brings me to my point: This guy probably has no clue the level of impact his one act of kindness had on me. I mean I had quite an arrogant vibe back then! To him, I could of came off like I didn’t receive what he said! Little does he know he faithfully demonstrated the reality of God to me. He showed the care of Heaven for my dad. He probably doesn’t know days later I took that message to my dying father—it was my first sermon, as I shared about how God showed Himself through this boy on a bus. He doesn’t know my father’s awe and gleeful shock that a random person would ask to pray for him.

How could he know? Just one small act of kindness—just a little concern for a stranger, just a small act of obedience—could impact me so deeply that eventually one day I would leave my life of drugs, alcohol, and wild living. That this hard and haggard guy—the one reeking of cigarettes—would go on to give his life seeking to demonstrate and display the same love demonstrated to him.

So let me encourage you today: you have no idea what one act of kindness can do for somebody! And to the young man who spoke with me on a bus in Gainesville in 2003, if you ever happen to come across this article. I want you to know your act of kindness towards me was not in vain. God has used it more than you could ever know.


Now to Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.

Ephesians 3:20


 

 

5 Practical Ways to Grow in Love

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 by AJ Hall

Last week I shared about my own personal struggle with giving and receiving love, and how marriage only confirmed to me that I needed to grow in my ability to love. (Marriage has a way of doing that!)


To read  “Building a Loving Marriage” click here.


The truth is: I’m not alone. We ALL have issues. We all need to grow in love. And each of us must have the courage to change. How about you? Do you see areas of your life where your love is lacking? What should you do when you recognize areas of brokenness in your life?

Here’s 5 practical tips to help you drive out shame and grow in love:

1. Surrender to Jesus.

This cannot be overstated. No matter how you cut it, our brokenness goes back to a “sin problem”. When man disobeyed a loving God, he was cut-off from self-worth and dignity; he was cut-off from Life itself! As human beings, our value is found in God; it will always be tied back to our Creator. God is the source, not us.

And as soon as we turned our back on Him, shame and fear flooded our souls. Adam’s first words after the fall were “I hid” and “I am afraid”. Shame and fear had gripped him.

We were lost to sin, and to win us back God acted out in love; The Father sending His son because of love. Jesus stood in our place for love. And now this Resurrected Savior welcomes us in. He invites us to share in His value and worth; All because of love!

I first experienced this love as a 19-year old club DJ watching my father die. In the days up to his death, I watched dumbfounded as this once hard hearted and foul mouthed man asked me to hold these little crosses and pray with him—I was witness to many of the genuine experiences he was having. I was also the one that came out to find him gone, a thin smile stretched across his gaunt face now so ravaged by two forms of cancer. The only way I can describe it is that I could almost see what my dad had seen—somehow I could see Him, the One my dad was waiting for, and I loved Him and knew His love.


But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8 NKJV


2. Realize EVERYBODY is jacked up.

I have struggled with this one a lot. And I know many people struggle with comparison. So let me hammer this point: Everybody is normal… until you get to know them!

Did you get that? Everybody is weird. Yes. It’s true.

Everybody is broken. We all have our junk and hang-ups and issues—freaky areas of mistrust, pain and unforgiveness. Why? Because we live in a world full of hurt people, and those hurt people hurt people.

If you’re still not convinced that you’re broken, just ask God. He’ll gladly answer, and show you some areas where you still harbor hurt and selfishness and mistrust. Not to shame you. But because He loves you and wants you to be perfected in His love! He wants you free to love!


All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

Isaiah 53:6 NLT


3. Don’t Blow this off.

For years, my wife tried to get me to see some of the strange ways I was closed off to her and others. “No man, that’s just the way I am”. Or some people think having issues with intimacy and love is not that big of a deal. These folks hear me talking about “inner healing” and emotions and they roll their eyes. Well friend, that’s a problem! Because this love thing is a BIG deal to God. Remember God’s greatest commandment? It was to love. In fact, Romans 13:10 tells us that ALL of God’s commandments can be boiled down to love.


Love does no harm to a neighbor;

therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Romans 13:10 NKJV


And here’s the deal: you can’t love staying all broken and hurt—walking around all wounded.

The Bible says, “Love is not touchy”. Or bitter, resentful, and irritable. No, it “bears all things”. How can love bear things? Because it’s not so easily offended. And why is it not so easily offended? Because it’s not walking around with all these wounds—harboring pain and hurt and unforgiveness. When somebody touches that wound, we lash out or pull away, or even worse, we say forget it with this whole love thing.

Don’t pull back! Have courage. And let God bind up your wounds!

4. Know the difference between guilt and shame.

Guilt is a healthy emotion. If you do wrong, you feel guilt. That’s a good thing. Don’t suppress guilt—a guilty conscience causes soul rot and leads you to accept more and more depravity into your life. Guilt can be productive.

But shame is not guilt. Shame is a spiritual force released through the power of sin. (Remember Adam?) Shame attacks our identity. It steals our hope.

Guilt is “I DID something wrong. Shame is “I AM something wrong.” You see the difference? There’s no hope with shame. You can’t fix the problem, because you are the problem. Shame is hopeless and leads to despair.

But God is bigger than our shame! He will deliver you from it’s grip. If you do something wrong, just repent! Ask God for help! Go to God. He’s not embarrassed of you asking. And He already knows what you did, and loves you anyways. He will help you. Trade in your shame for His loving embrace!


Instead of your shame, you shall have double honor, And instead of confusion, they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; Everlasting joy shall be theirs.

Isaiah 61:7 5


5. Pray and Read His Word.

We need revelation. We must ask God Himself to give us understanding. To really come to know and believe that God loves us. That’s how we change. We change when we experience God’s love and forgiveness in Christ.

Look at the New Testament Epistles. The Apostle Paul prayed for his churches to “experience” the love of God for themselves. We need this same revelation. We need God’s grace and affirmation to sink down deep into our hearts. Head knowledge is not enough. You must pray and seek, speak and confess, and chew on His Word, until the love of God becomes real to you! You need a personal encounter with God’s loving acceptance. Allow your heavenly Father to become a reality in your life!


When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father… [that] your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Ephesians 3:14, 17,18,19


Building a Loving Marriage: The Courage to Change!

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by AJ Hall

I can say confidently: I love my wife more today than the day I married her.

Not only do I feel more in love with her, I actually love her more. I’m able to love her more because my capacity to love has grown—my heart has become more open to her; I’m more devoted to her, I’m more sensitive to her touch, and I have a deeper appreciation for her.

When we first got married, I had all the same feelings of attraction. I’ve always been attracted to my wife—how could you not be? She’s beautiful!

But I also had a 25-year-old, established practice of closing myself off to any deeper kind of relationship. My walls were up. My mask was on. I didn’t know it at the time, but I had shut myself off to any form of intimacy—I couldn’t tolerate anything or anyone getting too close to me.

You see, the truth is: I had engineered safeguards in my life against ever having to experience the sting of rejection. If I don’t ever let anyone in, I can’t be hurt. If I keep you at a distance, there’s no chance I’ll be vulnerable to attack.

Isn’t it amazing how we human beings can craft such intricate systems of behavior in our daily lives to keep people out—without even being aware of it?

But here’s the thing: we all have our junk. We all have our strange tendencies. We all have our quirks. Many of us carry pain and hurt from our past. And we bring all of this junk into our marriage. Doesn’t marriage have a way of drawing our junk to the surface?!

Doesn’t marriage have a way of drawing our junk to the surface?!

But you’re not stuck where you are. You can change. You can grow. You can develop an ability to love.

Let me encourage you today: YOU can have a great marriage. You can build a great marriage. I don’t care how jacked up you are. I don’t care where you are starting from. You can grow. You can get better. If I can have a good marriage, anybody can have a good marriage!

It doesn’t matter how much pain you’ve been through. How much fear has been jam-packed into that soul of yours. How many mistakes you’ve made. How closed off you are to others. You can learn to love… and be loved. You can learn to let other people in. It just starts with one simple thing:

you need COURAGE to change!

 


Click here for “5 Practical Steps to Grow in Love


 

God Doesn’t Need You, but He Does Want You

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Why being wanted is better than being needed.

Back when I was a college pastor living in Gainesville, Florida, I had the privilege of hosting and ministering alongside a remarkable missionary from Vietnam. This man was a pillar of faith! In his late 70’s and suffering from Multiple Sclerosis for years, he had comforted dying street children in his arms and washed the feet of real, modern-day lepers.

Known as Uncle Charlie, this man had built an orphanage and outreach ministry to the street children of Ho Chi Min City.  Under communism, he had smuggled Bibles into the country for the underground church and now spent his days preparing and delivering peanut butter sandwiches to all his “kids”. When he spoke to my students, I remember how he pushed himself slowly around in his walker and laid hands and blessed the young people hungry for a word of encouragement.

This great man once lamented to me about the attitude of many of the ministers he came across in the United States. He noticed that far too many acted as if God needed them and their great talents.

He leaned in: “AJ, always remember: God doesn’t need you. You need God.”

I’ve found this to be a true saying.

God does not need you.

In other words, you do not impress God. You’re not that big of a deal. God is not (and never will be) awestruck by your gifts, talents, skill-sets, religious effort and/or achievements. And to act as if God needs you belies a considerable amount of self-importance—I’m obviously pretty impressed with myself when I secretly think, deep down somewhere, “You know, God should be pretty happy to have someone as great as me.”

It’s pride. And pride never ends well.

The truth is when we travel along the path of pride we end up in one of two places: feeling like we’re awesome, or feeling like we stink. Really high or really low. I’m amazing… I suck.

Back and forth we go— arrogance and despair become the vicious cycle of religion. I’m amazing: it’s time to judge everybody else! Oh no, I’m terrible: I’m the worst person ever. Yah, God is impressed with me! Oops, oh no. God thinks I’m an idiot!

Ever feel trapped in this cycle?

Here’s the good news:

God doesn’t need you, but He does WANT you!

He never intended for you to impress Him. God is not some secret admirer from afar; He’s a loving father looking down into the eyes of His child. He’s an up-close and personal God. He’s intimate.

God will settle for nothing less than intimacy. He wants relationship. He wants you.

He’s not content to sit back at a distance and let you try to impress him— He doesn’t want you out there performing for Him, He wants you close. Don’t you see? The merry-go-round of religion has too much relational distance for God’s taste. He’s intimate. He’s intense. He’s a father who will not stop with a pat on the back— He’s coming in for a hug. God’s not interested in feeding your ego, He wants to feed your soul with affirmation and love.

Why would we seek to impress God when we can be loved by God?

Don’t short-change yourself! God gave up His very own Son so that we could be loved. Jesus died so we could be counted as sons and daughters. So we could know God as Father.

Embrace the call to be a son or daughter. To be loved like a son or daughter. Don’t settle for the lonely and empty path of pride and religion.