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THE DAILY BATTLEFIELD

Over my lifetime the landscape has clearly changed in American society when it comes to spiritual things. I grew up in a neighborhood where belief in God was pretty much the only reality. Sunday morning was abuzz with families piling into cars as they headed to worship services. Our collective worldview left little room for spiritual choices other than personal devoutness or denominational identity. But, even in such a pro-belief atmosphere, choosing moment-by-moment surrender was just as intense as it is now. In the final analysis, it is not our external environment that makes the difference. "Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world!" Father, deliver me from failed excuses and strengthen me for the daily battlefield. Keep me in position and prepared to do Your will in Your way at all times.

HONOR

Modern culture has substituted “celebrity” for “honor”. While communications technology has opened a universe of information to the average person, it has also become a means of popularity for the most outrageous behaviors and unworthy celebrities. The Bible teaches the value of honor and commands us to honor those “to whom honor is due”, but warns against the dangers of popularity and self-centered aggrandizement of people. Giving honor to whom it is due in a biblical manner is life-lifting and ultimately leads us to worship of God, while adulation of celebrity leads us into personal fantasies and self-centered idol worship. The need to honor is hard-wired into our souls, but we must guard our hearts from the foolishness of seeking or idolizing celebrity. Father, help me steer clear of idol worship. Show me the right path of honoring You as I honor others.

GRACE FOR THE KILN

On my very first trip into the Soviet Union in the time of the Cold War I was surprised to find a bright little store in an otherwise drab and grey place. We were guided to a back alley by our taxi driver who behaved as if he were revealing a Soviet State Secret. The small shop had magnificent porcelain pottery. I bought several pieces and carefully packed them for my trip back to America. Upon arrival back home I opened my suitcase only to find that all but one piece was broken; they had not been sufficiently heated and hardened in the kiln. I do not like going through the furnace of trials life can bring, yet it is the “furnace of much affliction” that strengthens me for what is next. Father, You are the Potter, I am the clay. Grant me grace for the kiln that I may have fortitude for the journey.

HIGHER THAN I

From the earliest age I have been a lifelong climber. For me, it has never been about the climb itself; it is the heights that call to my soul. While I still get a bit nervous at the edge, I simply like to be up high. Seeing things from a higher position immediately gives life a different perspective. As I progressed from trees, to rooftops, to mountains to airplanes, the fascination with an elevated view never waned. In fact, it is imprinted on my soul from He who is “High and Lifted Up!” As King David’s heart grew faint, he cried out: “Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.” Moses held his staff over the battle below and the enemy was defeated! Yes! Lord God Most High, draw me to Your heavenly perspective on all things. Lift me higher so I may see Your prevailing power.

PERILOUS FREE-RANGING

I cannot permit my heart to have open borders since a free-ranging soul is exposed to too many perils. An unguarded heart is prone to consume unhealthy nourishment and stray into mortal danger. The common maxim: “you are what you eat” makes a valid point, and the same can be said of the human heart and mind. It is really quite simple, garbage in, garbage out, treasure in, treasure out. Like the physical body, my inward man must be nourished, protected and cultivated for it to stay healthy. My heart must be guarded since everything I do outwardly flows from the abundance of what is within it. Shepherd of my Soul, help me dwell under Your shadow, keep me safely near. Only under Your guardianship and oversight may I truly run free.

SKINNY MIRRORS

I once saw a news report describing how “skinny mirrors” are specifically designed to make you look thinner, and are being utilized in changing rooms of many retailers. Have we become so enamored with imagery that we would actually spend money to intentionally lie to ourselves? Yes we would, and I must confess, I definitely prefer mirrors that make me look better. However, lying to myself has no actual benefits; self-deception is toxic and dangerous. The Book of James speaks of God’s Word being a mirror; it never lies or projects a false image. We may ignore or forget the truth, but truth never changes. Lord Almighty, in You there is no falsehood whatsoever, deliver me from foolish games. May Your Blazing Truth and Unending Mercy cleanse my heart of every deception.

LITTLE FOXES

What I do or say not only reflects my character as a person, it either shows godliness or not. Jews and Christians alike are often called “People of the Book”. And so, what we do or don’t do is not so much a witness of who WE are as it is a reflection of God Himself. In the Jewish tradition, those who believe in God but ignore His commands commit “Chillul Hashem”, which is an “act of immoral behavior in front of others”. As Christians we usually think of “our witness” as important in really big things, but it is actually the little things that matter most.Solomon warned of “little foxes that spoil the vines.”This is a wake up call to pay attention to details of living our faith before others. LORD, you know my constant failings, yet You offer both grace an discipline. Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh upon me in things both large and small.