Talking Behind My Back

Have you ever been the subject of someone talking about you behind your back?  Worse, have you ever been the one talking about someone else behind their back?  I hardly think anyone is exempt from either of those questions.  In fact, the topics about another span the universe and unfortunately we only find out about the negative things.  Truth is, nobody really likes to find out they’ve been “talked about” behind their back.

I recently encountered a moment very similar.  But my reaction was very different than most I think.  I found out someone was talking about me behind my back and it literally took my breath away.  I never ever thought this person would say such things about me so when I found out I could do nothing but sit there in tears.  Why was I taken so off-guard, you may wonder?  Well, it wasn’t the first time.  This particular revelation was actually the sixth time it was brought to my attention.  It was getting a bit ridiculous . . . or was it?

What do you really say when you find out God is talking to others about you behind your back?  What do you really say?  I sat in awe and wept.

When, for the sixth time, some random person comes up to you and says, “God just told me to come over and introduce myself because you needed someone to pray with,” you open your ears to their words.  The prayers, the conversations, the revelation of God in those moments and the realization that God Himself was having a conversation with others about you will change your perspective!

Then I read about the blind guy, Bartimaeus.  It was brief, but it was direct . . . Jesus spoke to others about Bartimaeus in much the same way as he has spoken to others about me.  Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”  Jesus said this to those with him (likely his disciples).  And with that charge, they called Bartimaeus from the roadside where he sat yelling for mercy — something Jesus could have surely done Himself.  Bartimaeus was on the mind of Jesus and Jesus spoke to others to get his attention. (Mark 10:46-52)

I’m wondering now how many times I’ve missed the call from Jesus as He is trying to talk to me about someone behind their back.

Lord Jesus, I simply am awestruck at your thoughts of me.  When your thoughts of me reach me, they overwhelm me.  Thank you for calling out to your disciples for Bartimaeus.  I’m so thankful for their obedience in hearing your voice. Thank you for calling out to others for me!  And, for what it is worth, I’m glad you talk about me behind my back!

by Mark Cruver

Forfeit The Grace

Do I really believe the Word of God to be “a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path?”  Yes I do!  God’s word to me has been increasingly more meaningful and His voice, through His word, has been steady, firm and clear.  His promises and assurances fill me with more God-confidence and far less self-confidence.  More of Him, less of me.

Jonah’s life has always been an interesting read.  There’s nothing like the consequence of disobedience resulting in an unexpected journey in the belly of a whale.  It’s evident through his journey that God is serious.  And it is in this seriousness God reached out and demanded Jonah’s attention.  I know the feeling!

What is better is Jonah listened and pondered God’s direction.  He was in quite an awkward position of surrender and so he did.  And as he did, his heart too began to hear the steady, firm and clear voice of His savior.  As he listened, he learned of the greatest consequence of all.  To God, Jonah’s worship was silent.  It echoed throughout his life, but little belonged to His Lord — in fact, one might question what or who Jonah truly worshipped.  And without Jonah’s complete surrender in worship to His Lord God, the grace that could be, would be forfeited.

Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.  But I, with a  song of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you.  What I have vowed I will make good.  Salvation comes from the Lord.  Jonah 2:8-9

Lord Jesus, I know your grace is sufficient . . . for even me!  You have reminded me to trust in you even when the waters get deep and rough (Isaiah 43:1-2).  You have assured me that you hear my thoughts and words (Micah 7:7).  You have encouraged me to not allow my heart to be troubled or to be afraid — because you have given me Peace (John 14:27).  May I sing the same song as Jonah!

Clean Undies

But our citizenship is in heaven.  And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.  Philippians 3:20-21

Julie:  Are you wearing clean underwear?

Mark:  What?  Really?

Julie:  Are you?

Mark:  Just trying to pull my life together.

Julie:  I know.  Some days my only source of sanity comes in knowing that I have clean undies on.  I guess it’s the only thing I can control.  Everything else I shove off to Jesus.  I might appear looney tunes because I literally talk to him out loud as if he is there.  And not in  “mushy prayerful” conversation.  More like, “I can’t deal with this crap so you’re just gonna have to take it and figure it out yourself.  Let me know when I should pay attention to it because I’m done.”

Mark:  That’s where I am.

Julie:  Clean undies?

Mark:  They are clean . . . for now!

Julie:  Okay then!

This is an actual conversation I had recently with a dear friend and thankfully, not forgotten.  It was an incredible reminder of my need to let go and let God.  It is terribly easy for me to sulk, think, craft, construct, excuse and attempt to control my circumstances and ultimately, my life.

Julie’s point was well taken. Clean undies are my job, God certainly has a sense of humor.  He left that decision to me!  Luckily I have the smarts enough to make it so.  But little have I ever realized the implication of assuming control of my life.  God wants nothing more than to “work all things together for His good.”

Control is a crazy thing — something we want desperately.  Because when we have it we feel safe, secure, ordered, in charge, peaceful, organized, mindful — but these are all false senses.  It is only through Christ, who is all, gives all and controls all.  It requires a true surrender and demands a level of trust that comes only through the grace and love found on the cross.  It begins in the mind, captures the heart and together, through Christ, brings everything under His control.

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  II Corinthians 10:5

Nothing Coming Between

Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and he will come near to you.  Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.   James 4:7-8

Oswald Chambers in his famous devotional book, My Utmost for His Highest, says something remarkably poignant and it reaches to the core of my being.  He says anything that disturbs my rest in Him (Christ) must be taken care of immediately; that I must never allow anything to remain that is causing a separation between Christ and myself.  I’ve never given a “truth-check” to the reality of what my sin does in terms of my relationship with Christ!  Separation?

It’s so easy to focus on the issue, the specifics and become entirely distracted from the essence of truth in the current of self.  This “rip-tide” is subtle, inviting and yet, swift and dangerous.  Anything that stands between Christ and me stands in the face of trusting Him by doing things my own way.  It is a willful act of looking into the mirror and seeing “self” instead of Christ in me!  It becomes a refocus of self-consciousness.  When I focus on me and my own circumstances, analyzing and contemplating the outcome of life’s most uncertain  moments, it translates into the absence of God’s rest, His contentment and peace.  It is replaced with self-consiousness in the form of feelings of fear, rejection, discontent, worry, pride, resentment, hurt . . . to name only a few.

The answer here is found in my “will” — through choice.  God has designed me in such a way as to decide what thoughts to entertain.  And He reminds me in His Word to take “every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.” (II Corinthians 10:5)  How I choose to think about me and my circumstances is the difference between my “junk” coming between Christ and me and nothing coming between Christ and me.  It’s the moment when I choose to deny self-consciousness and live in the embrace of Christ-consiousness.  Through this lens I quit focusing on myself and begin focusing on Christ in me – my Strength, my Comforter, my Healer, my Deliverer, my Redeemer.

Lord, Jesus, I need you every hour!  And in each hour I desire to think on Truth!  I realize that when I choose to do things my way and not your way, I am separated from you!  Those are very unpleasant moments for me and worse to remember.  I’m asking Lord, to make me God-concious!

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.    Philippians 4:8

Island At High-Tide

No Man Is An Island

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s,
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

by: John Donne

Islands have represented many things in literature – an identity of belonging, association and connectivity. It represents a part of the whole — with communion. But it can be a lonely place.  By definition, an island, by nature is a place where one feels little comes and no one goes, surrounded by endless bodies of water.  On the other hand, we see islands as a picture of life, full of fresh fruit, new beginnings and great adventure.  And then, from my generation, the island became home to castaways after a three-hour tour!

Even so, an island is still an island — separate, withdrawn, self-sufficient and self-reliant.  When man adopts this identity, he becomes the one for whom all things are determined.  It’s an incredibly dangerous place to live and yet, so many, with great debate, live on such a place.  I know, I’ve been there!

My island, like everyone’s island, was unique.  Constructed to fit the very nature of things and designed to defend the best of presumption.  However, most of my life it never appeared as an island to most, with the exception of those close to me.   The mirage, (those things untrue) created an illusion to most that my world was connected, sensible and for all intents and purposes – perfect.  And when the mirage faded and the tides rose high I retreated, much like a funnel-web spider at the sign of danger.  Except for me, my retreat was my kingdom, my fortress, my island at high tide.  It was in this place of refuge no one could touch, no one could harm, pride reigned supreme and arrogance was the air in which I breathed.

Like any island, high-tide is expected.  With the ebb and flow of the moon, the seas rise and fall.  And life mirrors such events.  But when the weather creates unusual depths and the storms of life create catastrophes, the house once built on sand stands everything to lose.  The kingdom falls, no amount of pride sustains and the air once thick with arrogance becomes drenched with humility.

How grateful I am of God’s bedrock!  When the waters retreat, the palace of pride falls and the light of the Son shines the freshness of life — where the streams of living water run — and re-hydrates the once sapped soul with the breath of Life under the shadow of the Cross!  Amazing grace!

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.  It teaches us to say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait fo the blessed hope — the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.    Titus 2:11-14

Without Wings

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.  James 4:10

There are plenty of things crafted by the Master’s hand that goes counter to all things understood.  In many ways we would consider these things “exceptions” to whatever rule they seem to break.  For instance, the Platypus, an ostrich-headegg-laying mammal — seems a bit odd, don’t you think?  Let’s consider the Bat, a flying mammal — blind none-the-less — still a bit odd.  How about a Penguin?  A bird, that swims!  Speaking of birds, what’s up with the Ostrich?  A bird that has wings, but cannot fly!  Imagine if it could though — wow!

God is the only one that can get away with this kind of “exception-al” thinking or doing!  It truly demonstrates the mastery of His design.  When we try to apply some of these same exceptions to things created by human hands, it doesn’t quite run the same “exception-al” rules.  For instance, we don’t drive boats on the road, nor can we get a hot-air balloon to lift with water!  Perhaps more so, we have yet to create or design a plane that could fly without wings.  It just doesn’t happen.

But beyond all things tangible things, God also created a relationship that is truly “exception-al.”  It is built with love at it’s core, faith as it’s fuel and hope in it’s veins.  All of which assume their own “exception-al” design.  Further, God reminds us that in order to be more like Him we must humble ourselves before Him and man. Seems “exception-al” to me!!  In essence, He says, deflate your pride and I will make you soar on the wings of eagles!  What?

He has designed us without wings — yet, He has promised to lift us high if we are to humble ourselves.  That means making life all about Him and little about me!  That means saying, “I wanna do life Your way, not my way!”

Thank you Lord Jesus for doing an “exception-al” work in me!  You designed me to love the unlovable, to worship the God of the universe, to soar without wings, to taste and see!  Continue to show your immeasurable love to me each day as I learn more about dropping my pride to the curb!

by:  Mark Cruver

Beyond Comprehension


Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:8

Today is simple. Summed up in a simple, yet humbling and submissive prayer. I cannot take credit for originally authoring this prayer as it was written by Anabel Gillham. Her words, however, echo my sentiment and heart toward my Heavenly Father. I share them because maybe, just maybe, they will resonate with your own.

Dear Father,

You are aware of everything that is going on in my world at the present time . . . what has happened in the past . . . and what is to come in my future. That is beyond my comprehension. You know all of my needs before I even tell You about them. That, too, is beyond my comprehension. But I accept it as Truth. I know it. And in spite of that, knowing, I enumerate all of my needs to You time after time. Of course, the presupposition would be that I don’t believe You heard me and You’re doing nothing about these crises of mine. Well, that’s wrong. It’s for my own benefit that I present them to You over and over again. I guess I think this will communicate to You how important they are to me. (I am so limited in my understanding of You.) Thank You that You have heard me as I talked to You and that You have taken these petitions and You are working Your mighty plan in each of them. In Your timing I will see and understand. My wisdom is infinitesimally small. Your wisdom is infinite.I refuse to tell You WHAT to do . . . but please confirm to me that You are DOING.

But A Memory

“See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty. Malachi 3:1

On this well deserved day of reflection and honor of those who have given their lives for the freedom of our country, I am also in much reflection of another who gave His life for me … for the entire world.

My reflection brings about what most would consider a standard response of awe, wonder and humility mixed with curiosity of my own participation in His crucifixion along with His consideration of me while on that cross. More than two-thousand years later I am breathing the air He created since He took His last breath. And yet, my life to Him is but a memory.

The point you may ask? The point is not that I’m merely a reflected moment of time in His mind. On the contrary, I was as much present on the cross as He is present with me today.

While my time is merely measured in units of minutes and years, His time is measured by eternity. And with that said, I am currently seated with Him.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7

Lord Jesus, my mind gets overwhelmed with the idea of not only what you think of me, but how long you’ve been thinking of me. You have begun a good work in me and you will not stop until you have perfected your work in me. Thank you for never giving up! Thank you for going before me and preparing the way!

Carrying Glory

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written:  “Be holy, because I am holy.”  I Peter 1:13-16

My story includes countless moments when I’ve lost sight of God’s purpose in me.  I’ve set my mind to things and made choices that have altered the plan God set in motion.  Pride is not something that comes to mind when I reflect on those days.  But even so, it’s still God’s plan and He is still in control.

I’ve now heard, on two separate occasions — back to back, the story of Sampson.  I do not believe in coincidence — knowing full well, God has something for me to learn from this man.  It’s funny in that I recall a few months ago, while thinking through a number of old testament characters, that I didn’t know much about Sampson — except of his strength.  But now that has changed.

A man of great strength indeed, but more importantly, a man with God’s purpose imprinted on him from birth.  Informed by an angel from God, his mother was told of Sampson’s purpose:  to follow God in three ways, to one day freeing the people of Israel.  Sampson was to consume no alcohol — to stay pure on the inside.  Sampson was to never cut his hair — to be recognizably different, set apart.  Sampson was to never touch anything dead — to exercise obedience and self-control.

Sampson was given a great responsibility by God, like none other.  He was chosen to be the one that would free the Israelites from the Philistines.  He had a special purpose.  But he often mocked this and wasn’t willing to carry God’s glory.  All about himself, he lost sight of his purpose.  And with that, he lost his strength — he lost everything, including his own eyes.

But God, because of His unending abundance of grace and mercy, listened to Sampson’s voice in his final hours.  And God restored His strength, freeing the Israelites and fulfilling His purpose.

God wants me to carry His glory every day.  By guarding my mind and keeping my heart pure on the inside.  By becoming noticeably different to others and living a life that is set-apart.  By choosing each day whom I will serve through obedience and self-control.

Lord Jesus, I’m gonna be honest and say that carrying your glory seems like a lot to carry.  In fact, the devil wants me to think I can’t carry it at all — that it’s too much to measure up to.  But I know that your word says your yoke is easy and your burden is light!  My purpose is to be holy!  It’s a good thing it’s not tied to feeling because I’m not feeling very holy.  But your Truth is clear, I am holy because of Christ in me!  Continue to guard my mind and heart, protect me from the lies of the things I see as I continue to be who I am!  May my actions, responses and behavior reflect that of a child of the King! And may your Helper, the Holy Spirit, nudge my spirit and extend the strength I need to be obedient to you in all things.

Finally, brothers [Glory Carriers], whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.  Philippians 4:8-9

The Pit and Peace

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.  Isaiah 26:3

I pulled up to the curb and said my goodbye’s as my boys replied with “I love you, dad!”  Slinging their backpacks over their shoulders they made their way to the sidewalk and began the journey of their day in middle school . . . but not before looking back at dad one last time.  They’re gone and now the car is quiet with the faint sound of the radio in the background and the warmth of the sun beating against my chest and with it, my self is unsettled.

It’s a pretty long ride home each morning from drop-off, about 30 minutes.  And, while on a normal day I would sing with the radio, talk to God about what my life looks like right now or pray for others and myself — today was a bit different.  Quiet with an occasional honking horn here or there, it was a rather mesmerizing ride.  I could tell I was losing my footing and slipping into the pit.

I got home and opened the front door to further silence.  I was all alone now.  But this wasn’t the first day I’ve walked into a quiet house.  And nor will it be my last.  I had decided earlier that  I wasn’t going to write anything in this blog today, but instead just move on with my day.  I grabbed my computer, a cup of coffee with my bible and sat in my chair . . . and the lump in my throat grew and tears began to flow down my cheek.

Why am I here, God?  Why?  Why do I feel this way?  I asked Him question after question — He promised me peace and I feel like I’m in the pit!  My world is upside down, my heart is racing and I feel like a basket-case.  It certainly doesn’t appear very peaceful in my life right now as my hands tremble and my thoughts are so mixed.

And then, I ran across the words of Isaiah 26.  It was though He said to me, “Mark . . . What are you setting your mind on?  What is your heart and mind dwelling on?”

Oh how I’ve thought His peace to be unconditional, but this is not His promise.  He wants me to not only remain in Him, but to set my mind to Him.  It is then He gives peace.  I weep with His presence.

How can I be so hard-headed and stubborn?  I always felt like peace came in the absence of troubles, but God says no to that.  He offers peace in the midst of troubles, in the midst of pain and hurt, in the midst of grief — and through His peace is healing!  Why?  Because our minds are set on Him — trusting and leaning with our full weight on Him alone.

Lord Jesus, I know . . . I know — trust you!  But, man, that’s so hard to do sometimes!!!  That’s me being honest!  When I stare at the dot in front of me and focus through my flesh on circumstances around me and neglect to witness your hand in the big picture of what you are doing in and through me, I experience the pit instead of your peace.  Create in me a discipline in my mind to be more steadfast in you!

Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal.  Isaiah 26:4