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How I Became a Fool (Part 1)

  • November 2011
  • natemhanson

I just thumbed through to the back of my journal. It is presently empty. Just lines and lines of nothing. The back of it is so far from the last pages of writing that sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever reach it. Part of me gets nervous and anxious about what will be written on that page. Part of me gets excited. I could write down 10 guesses of what that page will contain, but I’m almost certain they would all be incorrect.
Or, maybe I won’t even make it to that page. That page isn’t guaranteed. But, I know that God will never leave nor forsake me. Isn’t that enough? Hasn’t that always been enough?

One day very soon all that we can see will burned up and dissolved—and all the works done on the earth will be exposed. “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” (2 Peter 3:11-12.)

Today is what matters. Did I stand up for God today. Did I confess His name with my words, life and decisions today? A lot of people believe God is faithful, trustworthy and good, yet so few prove his faithfulness, trustworthiness and goodness by relying on Him to come through for them.

I feel out of place, but I know it to be exactly what is expected of an ambassador walking on foreign soil.

The difference between the faith of Joshua, Caleb and my own is so vast. I never let myself get that close to having to put everything on the line like they did. They were fools if God wasn’t as powerful as He said He was.. I wonder what their sermon to me would be.

To be out of place in the wrong place is to have your heart in the right place.

My God’s Enough and Him Alone

  • June 2011
  • natemhanson

I turned 24 years old on Friday. I wrote this poem looking back on my 23rd year of life. Some of you know that it was the culmination of many unexpected years of physical pain.

When the days are longer still
My eyes must strain to see Thy will
The fields are dry and all seems lost
The money light compared to cost
Though at times it seems to be
That God has turned his face from me
My legs are weak, my back is sore
My spirit, He does not restore
Tis then my heart speaks to my head
Though it seems my body dead
Through my life let it be know
My God’s enough and Him alone

When the sun breaks o’re the height
The warmth it gives my body might
My legs now have the strength to stand
They’re walking in a pleasant land
The water in the stream beside
Is dancing like my joy inside
It glimmers in the sun so clear
I wonder, “could these be my tears?”
The ones that I had cried so long
Now rushing in a stream so strong
Through water, now, His grace is shown
My God’s enough and Him alone

The stream gives life to plants and trees
Which gracefully dance in the breeze
Their fruit is sweet and nectar tart
The colors are a work of art
What once was pain now proves to be
The most beautiful thing I’ve seen
I then look up to see the end
Of the beautiful, watery land
A county were my feet would roam
And find it then to be their home
The stream had lead me to His throne
My God’s enough and Him alone

Holding a Gun To Your Head

  • February 2011
  • natemhanson

Someone is holding a gun to your head asking you to deny Christ or they’ll shoot you. Will you deny Him?
I used to think that was the ultimate question facing every Christian. As I run toward eternity and as I read of others who have already run into eternity, I now see that I had the question wrong.

See, that isn’t the ultimate question. It’s this:

Would you be willing to truly live for Christ? — Would you trade the priorities of the world for the priorities of heaven? Would you sell your house to give more money to people without one? Would you put your plans aside and adopt children who don’t have a family? Would you move to a place that is unsafe and raise your kids there to reach people who have to live there every day? Would you answer the call of hundreds of lost souls begging to hear about Jesus in this world even though it will cost you your whole life? Would you live in such a way that will, according to Jesus, cost you friends and popularity and possibly cause you to be truly hated, rejected, and lonely?

It’s far easier to die once than it is to die daily.

Let’s walk in the footsteps of Jesus.

How You’re Like a Tree

  • November 2010
  • natemhanson

I have long pictured everyone I meet as a tree. Don’t ditch this post just yet, let me try to make some sense of this (also, read Psalm 1.)
The most important part of a tree is it’s roots. If the tree has a bad root system, the tree will be bad. What then are the roots — the most important aspects of a life of following Christ? I believe the main roots could be narrowed down to:

1. The Fear of the Lord (Proverbs 9:10)

2. A Pervading Love for the Lord (Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:29-30, Luke 10:27, Deuteronomy 6:5)

3. An Exclusive Trust in the Lord (Jeremiah 17:5-8, most of Psalms)

Can you see how nearly all other areas in our lives grow and get their life (or death) from these roots? Try it for a moment. Think of something such as “a willingness to go anywhere for the Lord.” That trait comes because you fear and love him enough to trust that He will take care of you no matter where you go. Or, what about prayer? If you love the Lord and trust him alone, you will talk to him and want to be with him. Keep going — try some more.

If someone can figure out how healthy these three roots are in your life, then not only can they derive the health of countless “smaller” areas (what I like to call your “leaves” and “branches,”) but they may also be able to project forward in your life to times of pain, discouragement, loss, or hurt and know how you will fair in those conditions.

The absolute best example I can think of to prove my point is the life of Daniel. From a teenager we can see the health of his roots. He didn’t eat the defiled food from the King and trusted God to come through. A few years later in his life he again fears God alone and doesn’t bow down to other idols. For this he was thrown into a fiery furnace and the Lord came through for him. Still later in his life he loved God only and wouldn’t stop praying to Him even if it meant being thrown into a pit of hungry lions. Again, God came through for Him.

If you are a man or woman who truly trusts and fears the Lord now, then as you grow older, circumstances will matter less and less to you, and pleasing God will matter more and more.

If you have read my post The Fearless Wife, hear this: It’s not about marrying someone who is fearless. It’s about marrying someone who fears, loves and trusts the Lord right now. The leaves of fearlessness are a result of the roots of trust, fear and love of the Lord.

I want to say two things in closing. First, we must cultivate and pray for our love of the Lord, trust in the Lord and fear of the Lord. If you truly love Him alone, you’ll pray for anything to come into your life to grow those three areas.

Second is this: Don’t spend time focusing on “small” leaves and branches (with yourself or with others.) Sometimes we look at a person and think, “They aren’t willing to give up everything in this life for Christ? Then we need to show them verses saying that Christ demands everything!” But, that doesn’t deal with the root issue. Their root issue is that they don’t trust God. They want to keep their possessions and dreams because they want to trust themselves, not God. Or, we see someone who might spend 5 minutes praying a day, and we think, “I will tell them to pray for an hour… That will do it.” But the root issue is that they don’t really love God. They’re not searching their day for time to be with God or denying themselves other engagements to give that time to God. Finally, we might see someone who isn’t taking all of the words of God seriously. It’s because they don’t truly and exclusively fear the Lord.

How are the health of your roots?

Be a person (and marry a person) who has strong roots of fear of the Lord, love for the Lord, and trust in the Lord. That will take care of “problems” down the road.

Election Day: Today Shouldn’t Matter

  • November 2010
  • natemhanson

Just a quick post here to beg you to think differently about today. While many Christians will be freaking out today because of the Election, I beg you not to. Here’s why:
God reigns.

That’s past, present and future tense. This is the same God who had Israel wander in the wilderness for 40 years. That was His will. Please don’t dare to assume that God’s will is for all the moral people to get elected and all the bills/propositions that keep in step with the bible to be passed.

You just might be stronger as a follower of Christ if this world is “worse” politically. Please seriously consider that. Few will say that today.

Please don’t hear this as “Nate’s hoping all the bad people and policies win today.” That’s not it at all.

I am begging you to have an eternal perspective today (and everyday.) Today really shouldn’t matter to you. Unless you’re going to live differently because of who gets elected or what policies get passed, today shouldn’t matter.

Even if someday I will literally be in chains because of following Christ, I will follow him no differently. So, why should today matter?

The Fearless Wife

  • October 2010
  • natemhanson

It seems that a common struggle for the wife of a God-fearing man — a man that desires to be led completely by the Spirit of God — is that of the unknown and uncertainty in this life. Every step depends on complete trust in God and not in the “guarantees” this world can seem to offer. However, when you look upon the truth of God’s word, you see the brevity of this life, the eternity ahead of us, and God’s promise to never leave nor forsake us. There really isn’t anything to fear.
A woman with this perspective is to be cherished and valued as uncommon.

Regarding being married to such a man, Lisa Chan writes the following:

The Lord has been dealing with me on a certain issue lately. Of all the refinement I have felt and seen in my walk with God (although plenty still remains), this issue seems to rear its ugly head again and again. I can’t seem to “kick it” entirely and so, once again, I am faced with my weakness and need for the truth of who God is.

The issue is fear. Not the healthy biblical fear of God that should put everything in perspective for us. It’s the unhealthy kind. The kind that can end up crippling us as we go about trying to follow Jesus WHEREVER He calls us.

Sometimes these fears are drummed up in my own imagination. Other times a seed grows any time someone exclaims, “You’re going to do THAT?” or “I could NEVER do that!” Which is why I find it so important to really know God and to be able to trust Him. There have been many times that my husband, in his crazy (and well-founded) love for God, has brought a “scary” proposition to the table. I have always been very committed to his leadership, but sometimes following his lead has caused me to really examine what I believe about God. It “tests my theology” as I heard one pastor put it. Do I really believe that if we “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, all these things will be given as well”? (Matt 6:33) Am I confident that our treasure is not here on earth, but that it is in heaven? (Matt 6:20) Is it true that every day that was ordained for us was written in His book before one of them ever came to be? (Psalm 139:16) Well then, that makes my fear about safety seem kind of silly, doesn’t it?

The other day we were praying together as a family about an upcoming two-month trip out of the country. My second daughter Mercy was getting emotional as she prayed about her fears, when my 5-year-old son leaned over and whispered to her, “Mercy, the Lord your God is with you wherever you go”. You know my mama’s heart was filled up to hear that. But to meditate on that scripture was very powerful. God is with us wherever we go. “You hem me in behind and before, and lay Your hand upon me.” (Psalm 139:5) We may, as ministry wives, be separated at times from our comforts, our security, our friends, our riches, our expectations, but we will never be separated from the presence of God. We may struggle through those fleshly fears, those fears that take our eyes off our glorious God, but we cannot let them overwhelm us. I will not let fear keep me from experiencing all that God has for me, and all the ministry that God has prepared for me to do. I pray the same for all of you sisters! “Humble yourselves therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” (1Pet 5:6)

A Sheep that Doesn’t Need a Shepherd

  • September 2010
  • natemhanson

Have you ever thought about the sheep in those cute little petting zoos? Think about it; they don’t need a shepherd. They don’t need someone to protect them from wolves because they have bars around them. They don’t need someone to make sure they don’t fall off cliffs; they just make the cage flat and put no dangers in there. They don’t need someone to lead them to water. It gets dumped into a bowl for them whenever they need it. Their life is setup to not need a shepherd.
I’m willing to bet that if you and I took a poll of church attendees for the most beloved Psalm, it’d be Psalm 23. The imagery is poetic and beautiful:

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

My question is, why do you not want? Do you not “want” because the Lord is your shepherd or because you’ve chosen to live in a comfortable cage of protection? Sheep living in a petting zoo don’t have to go through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. See, that was a path that shepherds took their sheep through to get them where they needed to go. Do you live as though you’re afraid of the Valley of the Shadow of Death?

Daniel knew something about this valley of the shadow of death. In Daniel 6, we read a story of a man of who didn’t “want” anything. Daniel believed God would take care of him even if it meant getting thrown into a pit of starving lions ready to eat. He was walking with his Shepherd. He wasn’t in want. He would go anywhere with his Shepherd because he knew his mercy and goodness would go on forever and that he would dwell with him forever. He wasn’t afraid.

Are you afraid? Is there something you’re not doing because of fear or not wanting to give up your comfort? A friend of mine always says, “There will be no cowards in heaven.” He gets it out of Revelation 21:

The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.

There will be no cowards in heaven. If the Lord is your shepherd, you won’t be a coward. You don’t fear anything with him by your side.

Conclusion:

What’s best for your retirement? What’s best for your children? What’s the “wisest” thing? Is that being a good steward?

These are all questions that people who do not have the Lord as their shepherd will ask you the second you feel the Lord calling you to walk anywhere near the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Often these questions come from people in the church (yes, the same people who love to quote Psalm 23)! Don’t let them stop you. Don’t let them tell you that you can’t do that to your children — that your “kids deserve more”… That you need to plan for their future.

Don’t let anything stop you from walking where only the Lord can protect you. He was enough for Moses, Noah, Daniel, David, Paul, and so many others… And he’ll be enough for you.

As it says in Psalm 37: “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.”

This is the best thing for your future. This is the only wise thing to do. This is being a good steward. Walking by a crazy faith in the Lord is the best way to raise your children. They’ll see from a young age that the Lord has always taken care of their mom and dad and that he has to take care of them too. They’ll learn to trust him regardless of the circumstances or the location. You see, if you have the Lord as your shepherd and you live your life and raise your children near the Valley of the Shadow of Death, they will fear no evil.

No Clarity on the Narrow Road

  • May 2010
  • natemhanson

There is a famous story that goes like this:

John Kavanaugh went to Calcutta to find out how he was to spend the rest of his life. When he met Mother Teresa, he asked her to pray for him. “What do you want me to pray for?” she replied. He then uttered the request he had carried thousands of miles: “Clarity. Pray that I have clarity.”

John was willing to do anything for God… He just wanted to know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, what that was.

“No,” Mother Teresa answered, “I will not do that.” When he asked her why, she said, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.” John replied, “But you always have clarity and that is all that I desire!” Mother Teresa laughed and said: “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.”

At first it sounds noble, doesn’t it? We are very used to praising that type of “surrender” in the Church.

Before you praise his level of surrender or before you start wishing you were as committed as him, consider the words of Jesus to a man very similar to Mr. John Kavanaugh.

Matthew 8:19-20: And a scribe came up and said to Jesus, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”

Perfect! He is willing to go wherever for Jesus.

Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.”

This is important, so listen: Surrender means laying down everything – including clarity – and trusting God to lead you.

In the bible, I don’t think anyone understood this more than Abraham.

God called Abraham to be a sojourner without a permanent home here on earth. The call from Jesus was no different in the New Testament and it’s no different for you today. God has called you to a life of uncertainty and dependence on Him. Abraham didn’t know then that he might be slaying his only son Isaac. He didn’t know then about the famines he’d experience. He didn’t know about the years of waiting on the Lord for the promise. He didn’t know any of that then.

He surrendered everything – including the clarity he could have had in this life – and gained a crown of righteousness in another country.

That’s the point! Following the world gives you clarity in this life. Following Jesus gives you uncertainty in this life. You must understand this, children!

And so you’re facing an extreme, life-altering, eternity-paving choice at this very moment. You can have clarity for your life. It’s a decision that the scribe made after talking to Jesus there in Matthew. The broad road is full of church-goers who will surrender everything to the Lord… except for their clarity in this life.

Or, you can live like Abraham. You can lift that knife to slay your only son – the promise – even though you cannot see any other way for God to come through. The narrow road is a road where each step is trust – not clarity! But, every step you’re getting closer and closer to Jesus. And He’s enough.

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3 AM

  • February 2010
  • natemhanson

Father,
How can I stand in your presence. I can’t. I am so unclean and so are my friends, people at my work, and everyone I know. I don’t stand a chance. Do whatever you want with me and through me.

Is radio all about me? I don’t have to work in radio if it’s not about you.

Is my music really all about me? Then let me never sing another song if my heart isn’t right.

I don’t want to trick myself, Lord. I know what you have commanded me to do… Why do I fill my life with anything that isn’t born out of fulfilling that command?

Let me only be your mouth piece here on this earth for a few years. I fear you and what you can do to me. Only by your grace can I ever even look at your face.

Let me not be consumed by not even any of the slightest perversions of your true command and call. Let me truly die to myself and teach others to do the same.

I Don’t Need God For That

  • January 2010
  • natemhanson

Does you life look like you rely on God?

It struck me the other day that I cannot even pray as Jesus instructed people to pray. Part of the famous “Lord’s Prayer” has become outdated. I’m referring to the line:

“Give us this day our daily bread…”

We have so set up our lives to not rely on God that this verse just seems unnecessary to us now. Maybe in a time when we didn’t have as much money or when resources weren’t as widely accessible as they are now this prayer might have been necessary — but there just isn’t a great need for it now.

Do you see what has happened? Do you see what we’ve done? Slowly, over time, we have written God out of His own story.

Since the beginning of time, this whole thing has been about God. He is the center of it all. He is the star of the show. We have slowly setup our lives to not need God. We have forgotten about him.

In just a short time the Lord will either come back, or we’ll die. We don’t really have that long. At that moment, all that will matter is Him. Yet when was the last time we thought about that moment? When was the last time you longed for the Lord to come back?

2 Peter 3:10 says,

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God.”

God is looking for people who are waiting for that day. God is looking for people who know they need him.

Do you need him? I mean, does you life look like you’re relying on him?

To be honest, I don’t know how to end this discussion. I don’t want you to end you life focused on yourself. I don’t want you to end your life forgetting about God. More importantly, I want you to spend your life needing God.

I don’t know what it is for you that keeps you from needing God. Maybe you spend too much time working, hanging out with friends, playing games, planning your future, reading books, etc. I don’t know. I just know that in a few short years the things around you will be gone and all that will matter is how you spent your time.

Do you spend your life needing God or not needing him?

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