My mornings begin similarly each day. Make coffee and oatmeal. Walk my dog Bella. Read.

I don’t read much. I might read a little Scripture. I might read a few paragraphs from a book I’m working through. I don’t read novels. I read in the morning to set my thoughts and heart on God.

This morning, I read like I always do. I love James Bryan Smith. After reading his trilogy of sorts: The Good and Beautiful God, The Good and Beautiful Life, and The Good and Beautiful Community, I was hungry for more.

I found Embracing the Love of God, which, like his previous books, are about replacing the narratives we naturally repeat to ourselves with God’s narratives. As Joyce Meyer would say, we have a lot of “stinkin’ thinkin'” going on, and we need to reverse that trend by renewing our minds with God’s Word, His truth, and His promises.

To be frank, I didn’t get very far in my reading. After skimming a couple of pages, I read the header: “The Secret of a Blessed Life.” 99 out of 100 people will read on to find out this “secret”, and being in that group, I read on. I didn’t have to read very far.

“God with us. This is the secret of the blessed life.”

I stopped there. Wow. Simplicity has its beauty… and so does truth.

Smith goes onto to say that this is what David the psalmist meant in Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

In other words, I have God with me and I don’t need anything else. He provides. He protects. He is wise, all-knowing, all-powerful, and He is right here with me. Better yet, He is inside me! As I get out of the way and yield to Him, He makes Himself more and more known, evident, and eventually, obvious in my life… both to me and to those around me. He makes Jesus known through me. He is all I need.

Blessings come in many forms, but the essence (and source) of blessing is God Himself. Immanuel. God with us.

Blessed indeed.

I am WITH YOU and will watch over you wherever you go (Genesis 28:15a)

And surely I am WITH YOU always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:20b)

I hear You call my name…

I’m listening to a song by B.J. Putnam entitled “Here For You” and the “bridge” of the song is repeated over and over. It simply states:

“I hear You call my name.
I’ll never be the same”

If you ever had God call you (and most of you reading this have), you know this is true. Once you grasp the moment in front of you… once you heed His call and take His hand… once you give your life to Jesus, everything changes. You are never the same.

It’s not that you all of a sudden have to follow all the Christian rules. That would be religion. That’s not it. At all. It’s not that you have to stop cussing, or drinking, or smoking… or start giving to charities or helping little old ladies across the street. Again, if you’ve never heeded the call of God in your life, trust me… that’s not it either.

It is recognizing that your way isn’t the right way. It’s allowing God to wipe the slate clean by the blood of Jesus, giving you a fresh start and eternal life. It’s a refreshing freedom not found anywhere or in anything but Him. It is simply surrendering your life to God, moment by moment, more and more. Romans 12:1 in The Message paraphrase of the Bible really says it well:

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.”

That’s what it means to embrace the call of God your life. That’s how you worship God everyday, moment-by-moment.

Beside the initial call that makes you come forward in a church service (or bow your heart somewhere/anywhere else) to accept the free gift that God offers, namely eternal life, there seems to be other opportunities to give more and more of yourself. Different doctrines call it different things: Consecration, Baptism of the Holy Spirit, Entire Sanctification, and other terms. Different strokes for different strokes, I guess. However, for each denomination, it includes yielding… surrendering… submitting… to more of God’s leadership in your life.

B.J. Putnam talks about it in his own words in the video below. It’s the guitar tutorial of the song, but he also gives a brief backstory behind the song.

It is answering the call.

Here’s the lyrics of part the song:

“I am here for You…
To worship You.
This moment will not pass me by.
‘Cause I’m in love with You,
In awe of You,
I’m giving everything…
I’m giving everything away.

I hear You call my name.
I’ll never be the same.”

I hear Him. Do you?

What is He saying to you?