Faith

10 Things I Learned About God From Brother Lawrence

Brother_Lawrence_in_the_kitchen

“Let all our employment be to know GOD: the more one knows Him, the more one desires to know Him. And as knowledge is commonly the measure of love, the deeper and more extensive our knowledge shall be, the greater will be our love: and if our love of GOD were great, we should love Him equally in pains and pleasures.”

How is this possible? Here are 10 ways we can grow in our knowledge, understanding and love of God:

1. We Need to Be in Constant Conversation with our Father

“That his prayer was nothing else but a sense of the presence of GOD, his soul being at that time insensible to everything but Divine love: and that when the appointed times of prayer were past, he found no difference, because he still continued with GOD, praising and blessing Him with all his might, so that he passed his life in continual joy; yet hoped that GOD would give him somewhat to suffer, when he should grow stronger.”

Sure, set times for prayer, but even your job should not hinder you from praying to the Father.

 

2. No Matter The Circumstance, Do All Things For The Glory of God

“That we ought not to be weary of doing little things for the love of GOD, who regards not the greatness of the work, but the love with which it is performed. That we should not wonder if, in the beginning, we often failed in our endeavors, but that at last we should gain a habit, which will naturally produce its acts in us, without our care, and to our exceeding great delight.”

Brother Lawrence worked in the kitchen in a monastery, no one saw or appreciated his work, yet still found joy in the everyday tasks.

 

3. Tell God Your Faults, Failures and Fears

“That in his trouble of mind, he had consulted nobody, but knowing only by the light of faith that GOD was present, he contented himself with directing all his actions to Him, i.e., doing them with a desire to please Him, let what would come of it.”

In the moments of struggle, doubt, or failure, talk to God about it. He will give you hope, he will console you.

 

4. That God Loves Us Because He Loves Us

“That all bodily mortifications and other exercises are useless, except as they serve to arrive at the union with GOD by love; that he had well considered this, and found it the shortest way to go straight to Him by a continual exercise of love, and doing all things for His sake.”

There is nothing you can do that can change God’s love for you. You can screw up over and over or attend church every Sunday, God doesn’t see the actions, He see the heart and He loves you no matter what you choose to do or not to do.

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God’s Plan of Redemption is Not My Plan of Redemption

“The spiritual life begins with the acceptance of our wounded self.” – Brendan Manning

“Our plan for redemption is hard to let go of; it clings to our hearts like an octopus.” – John Eldredge

“Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5)

If you had seen me a few months ago, you would have seen a boy struggling to make his way. I know faith is not based on works, but I began to base it on job performance and spiritual disciplines. If I worked harder, then I would eventually free up time to focus on my spiritual life. If I focused on my spiritual life, then my connection with God would get closer. My life was an if/then formula. John Eldredge hit the nail on the head, this was my plan of redemption, not Gods.

I honestly do not know what I really expected going into training camp.  It was the first breather I had had in a long time. Each “break” prior to training camp (Four of July, Easter, Christmas) was really more winding down than focusing on my own spiritual health. This week there was no avoiding it. I remember the whole drive to training camp I was trying to let go of all responsibilities and all expectations. My jaw was shut tight and my hands fiercely gripped the wheel. I could not even use cruise control since I was so tense. I was so used to controlling my own life and my own situations.

The Adventures in Mission staff say that our training camp was intense and like no other. I believe it. They were heavy on lectures the first few days of training camp. I think we spent pretty much all of the first three days in the auditorium listening and taking notes. Each session dove deeper and deeper emotionally and spiritually. Here is an entry from my journal:

Yesterday they asked us if we had ever grieved our past, not just simply asked for forgiveness, but grieved our old sinful self. I sat there and thought. I do not think I have ever grieved my past. Maybe that is why it still haunted me so. Maybe it was holding me back. One can ask for forgiveness over and over, but until you can fully accept and acknowledge that Christ has covered all your sins you will still circle back over and over to guilt and shame. I had been doing that for years, circling back to who I was, falling back into pits that I had asked for forgiveness from. I was the dog who was eating its vomit (Proverbs 26:11). 

God began really working in me hardcore that day. It was the first time in a long time that he had my full and undivided attention.  In fact, one of the first things I heard him speak to me that week was, “So how has your Christian walk been up to this point?” My response? “It sucks!” Up to that point I had struggled with the thought that Christ is working out my salvation, not me. There was nothing, nothing I could do to gain more of His love or become more Christian. I could not fully see that my identity was in Christ, not in my job, friends, culture and more. I had no control, He was in control. I don’t create my identity, He shows me my identity is in Him.

Try as we might by our appearance, performance or social status to find self-verification for a sense of being somebody, we always come short of satisfaction. Whatever pinnacle of self-identity we achieve soon crumbles under the pressure of hostile rejection or criticism, introspection or guilt, fear or anxiety. We cannot do anything to qualify for the by-product of being loved unconditionally and voluntarily. – Neil T. Anderson

I have been a Christian since I was a young boy. I have always known God loves me and Christ died for me. But I have never fully grasped nor trusted that He accepts me for who I am, He is the one who makes me more of a man and He is the one who frees me from myself and makes me more like Him each day. Nothing and no one else can give me full satisfaction, unconditional love and self-worth other than Him.

There are bigger things that God did that week that I hope to share with you in time, but I know that the change that has occurred in my heart during and since training camp is more than enough to justify writing this to you, my fellow viewers, supporters, alumni and squad mates. I am not the same man I was two months ago. Change has happened. Change is continuing to happen because of Him.

A new season of life has been birthed. God is good.

The Risk Hangover Pt. IV

As I write this final post on “The Risk Hangover” I cannot but stop and think of all the risks I have taken. I once heard a quote that the odds are in your favor if you take a risk, in fact, they are 50%. Not that bad if you really think about it. And here I am now sitting in my car at the airport waiting to pick up a dear friend after risking a lot to get here.

It all started at work when I ran an end-of-day report at the last second, which caused me to be ten minutes behind on getting to the airport. Then, as I neared Atlanta, I hit traffic. Typical. Thoughts began to flood my mind of, did I really screw up the timing on this and now I am going to hit the thunderstorms right as I get into downtown. Sure enough, the traffic got worse and hail and rain began to fall. Not only that, but a tornado warning was issued and I was stuck in 7 lanes of traffic. Perfect!

Just as I cleared downtown and was almost to the airport, my friend texted me to say his flight was now diverted to Nashville until the weather got better. Great! I was only 5 minutes out from the airport and decided it was better to just go ahead and head to the free parking lot at the airport. As I got off the exit ramp I noticed what seemed like a huge bomb of water exploding as a car plowed through the flooded exit ramp. It was too late to stop, so I did what Dad and all those defensive driving classes taught me to do; ride it out and don’t touch the brakes. I was going to risk it. (more…)

The Risk Hangover Pt. III

Pt. III – I Quit

In the previous posts on my series (Pt 1 and 2) called “The Risk Hangover” I talked about how many Millennials have never had to risk much in their lives. We have been given everything and yet now that most Millennials are now “twenty-somethings” we feel like we have nothing. Most would say they are overqualified in a job that they do not enjoy. Many Millennials are not married. I looked at all my high school friends and counted how many were married verses single, and the singles won the majority by a landslide. Marketers are having a ball with our age-group because it just seems like our generation is just scrambling for something to hold on to, something with meaning and purpose. They are trying to full our void. But what if I told you I did something that Millennials wished they could do? What if I quit a job that many would die for because I needed to experience more risk? Careless? Baby Boomers may think so. Exciting? Yes! Big risk? Oh yeah. (more…)