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Showing posts from 2012

SO LONG, FAREWELL

It is truly heartfelt as I say: "Happy New Year to everyone." I do not mourn the close of 2012, yet, I predict that many future blessings will be rooted in it. It is the finish of a foundation on which greater things will later rest. This past year has amplified for me things learned long ago: Evil masquerades as self-righteousness, forgiveness is central to spiritual progress and truth offered in love prevails.  Lord, into Your capable hands I entrust both the past and future. Please do not let me ignore the lessons that have emerged in this pivotal year.

CHAIN OF BLESSINGS

Each act of obedience to God begins a chain of unending blessing and invites new opportunities to make genuine spiritual progress. That we are granted such partnership with The Almighty is remarkable enough, but to understand that He DESIGNED us to partner with Him is at once humbling and too wonderful for words. Dearest Father, my life for You. Teach me to obey swiftly and completely.

THE NATIVITY SHOUTS

That God would trust any of us with something as valuable as a little baby is difficult to grasp, but to think that He entrusted to our hands the Son of God is impossible to comprehend. From Celestial Throne to musty hay, from the praise and service of ten thousand times ten thousand to a bewildered young couple in a world ill-prepared to receive the King of Kings. The Nativity shouts the love and faith of God. My Lord, My God, My Redeemer, grant me this day Your love, Your faith.

THE BLESSING OF MISTAKES

It is often said that we learn from our mistakes. I should be absolutely brilliant by now. One of my spiritual fathers, Costa Deir once said to me, "Son, if all of your mistakes are new ones, you are making progress." I conclude that learning what not to do is a vital part of knowing what is best. Lord, guide me today through the maze of decisions along the way. Grant me wisdom, progress and smiles.

DOOM AND BLESSING

It seems that potential Doom and Blessing are always just ahead. At times, one appears more imminent than the other, but one or the other always approaches. As it turns out, neither ever arrive exactly the way I had previously imagined, nor have the impact I had envisioned. So I am left with this: fear God and keep His commandments. Blessed Father, because You love me it is all working for my good. I get it. Baruk ha Shem Adonai!!

A POINTED LIFE

When each of us is created God places within us an internal compass that always points to true north, the direction of His created purpose for us. What does it mean to live a “pointed life?” It means when obstacles appear we may temporarily detour but true north never changes. A pointed life never looks to current surroundings as evidence of arrival. Lord God, grant me strength to resist diversion. Point me faithfully to Your destiny for me.

GOD'S DELIGHT

While having lunch at an airport restaurant I watched a young mother and her child. Her obvious delight in interacting with her baby made me wonder, does God delight in nurturing us?I remembered Zephaniah’s words: “He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” Father, I am so humbled and amazed to think of You singing over us as You nurture our created purpose.

DIVINE NAVIGATION

Skilled living requires respect for the Giver of Life. To simply follow human instinct apart from divine purpose and guidance is like being thrown into cascading rapids. To navigate the churning challenges of relationships, health, prosperity, ambition and mission I need God’s constant help. Seeking Him should never be a last resort. Father in Heaven, Your will, Your way, Your time, Your path.

HATRED

There is no shortage of hatred in this world. Every human spends time on one side or the other of animosity, usually both. Anger leads to bitterness, bitterness leads to hatred, hatred leads to death. Proverbs declares: “Whoever conceals hatred with lying lips and spreads slander is a fool.” Galatians places hatred in context: “idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions.” Wow! Father, deliver me from even the slightest element of hatred.

ALL THINGS CONSIDERED....

As I consider this past year many things come to mind: I had to let go of dear ones, I walked with many through shadowed valleys, I inwardly flourished in the midst of a dry and thirsty land, I passed through many “dark nights of the soul." I saw bountiful fruitfulness. I met amazing people. In the final analysis, I’m inclined to say: Shouts of joy and victory resound in the hearts of the devoted; the LORD has done mighty things! Blessed be the Name of the LORD.

DIVINE IMPULSE

Every good thing is preceded by divine impulse; God is its origin. No pride may be taken in a righteous act since it can only be done in His grace. How easily I slip into pretentious vainglory. Even while acknowledging God, somehow I find a way to take at least some credit. It is no wonder that I must die daily. Righteous Lord, annihilate my arrogance by the Cross, that I may humbly do good.

TRAGEDY

Tragedy comes to nations, cities, neighborhoods, families and individuals. In this world you will have tribulation. Calamities happen, but crawling into a cave of despair deepens the problems. “Why me?” Why now?” “Why this?” These questions lead to greater sorrow. The right question is “What”…”What does the Lord require of me?” My need is simple: trust, faith and security in the knowledge that God is great and God is good. Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth, I am at rest in Your limitless care.

GRACE TODAY

Grace is perfectly distributed by God. He that spins the worlds on His fingers has sufficient grace apportioned for every moment. Yesterday’s grace will not do for today, tomorrow’s grace cannot be coerced into early arrival. Like diurnally apportioned manna in the desert, grace comes for each day, each instant. Gracious Father, help me to accept and walk in Your provision of grace today.

A DIVINE BUSHWACK

People surprise me. They change so little, but then they do. Brilliance suddenly emerges from an underdeveloped mind. An otherwise stable person walks off the deep end. The spiritual sleepwalker awakens. I too, can change, be brilliant, go deeper, awaken. Sweet! Ever Present Lord, today is a superb day for a Divine Bushwack. Change me and make my life more pleasing to you. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.

HOLY UNCTION

It is too late to push away this new day; it is here, I must deal. So I embrace its treasures and troubles alike. It will all work for my good, as I am conformed into the image of Him who loves me and made me. Wisdom is waiting at every turn; delightful discoveries and teachable moments spread throughout. Father, I steady myself, prepared by Your Words and guided by Your Holy Unction. This will be good.

I WILL LIFT UP MY EYES

While on a morning walk I scanned the bright blue sky above and counted over thirty contrails slicing across the azure canopy. The wispy white streaks silently announce the passing of high-flying planes filled with passengers and cargo. I would have missed it all if I never looked up. How much in life do I miss for failure to follow King David’s example: “I lift up my Eyes to the heavens.” Lord of Glory, you act within the heavenlies to enforce You will in the earth. Help me to keep my countenance turned toward You.

VICTORIOUS RELIEF

My mind is upon past memories today. Most are good, but we each have our regrets and losses. Human experience is replete with personal and public pain. Deaths, wars, floods, crop failures, there is no shortage of grief. For those who know their Shepherd, there is victorious relief from the ravenous thieves of life and peace.Father, You heal our grief and reassure us in our pain. I rest assured in my Saviors clutch.

ANYWHERE

The accessibility of travel has dramatically changed over my lifetime, bringing home a simple point: I can get practically anywhere from where I am. It is easy to feel stuck in life, but in fact, with firm decisions and determination, we can move forward from wherever we are. The belief that we CAN is vital to taking the first steps. Lord, thank You for pointing to the means and direction for pursuing Your best.

HAPPY HANUKKAH

Hanukkah, the eight-day “Festival of Lights” begins at sunset today. It is a celebration of victory for God’s people, a remembrance of a great miracle and rededication of the Temple and shining light to the world around. This is a time to commemorate the superintendence of Adonei ha'adonim (Lord of Lords), to pray for the Light of Messiah to be shone to all peoples in all places and to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Blessed are You o Lord our God, Ruler of the universe! And to all…Shabbat shalom.

FOGGY BLESSING

This morning’s dawn is veiled with light fog. I strain to see details that I could otherwise see. The obscurity focuses my attention to what I WANT to see, what I NEED to see; things of less importance fade into the background. Yes Lord, I think I get it. Help me today to focus more carefully on what You want me to see each moment. Cause the non-essential whirling by to drift into the background.

EQUILIBRIUM

Trunk to the ground, roots pointing skyward, a huge tree simply falls over. It is unsettling. Soil and water, the very things that nourish, can be its undoing when given in excess. It is the same with me. Only the Eternal Designer Who knit me together can help me keep equilibrium. Lord, guide me into balance and moderation. Keep me from seeking excessive sustenance outside of Your design or provision.

DAILY VOCATION

Our daily vocation coincides with God’s. That we may behold His work is wondrous enough, but that the Creator of the Universe grants us partnership in His earthly activities is breathtaking. To be a craftsman at the Carpenter’s side fills me with delight day after day. Lord, I rejoice to do Your bidding. May my work this day, every day be synchronized with Yours. Let’s roll.

LOWER THE DRAWBRIDGE

Mankind was not made to go it alone. Our dependence upon God and others is wired in at the deepest level of our being. While it is true that we can build walls around our heart, pull in the drawbridge and consider all others intruders, to do so is to condemn ourselves to a self imposed prison. Father of Freedom and Purpose, help me to tear down the walls. Incite my heart to openness and love.

AN EFFECTIVE LIFE

I do not merely want to live; I sincerely desire an effective life. Earnest pursuit of godliness positions us for divinely empowered accomplishment. Selfishness has the opposite effect, sending us into a world of speculative fantasies that are empty and dangerous. To You, Dearest Father, belong wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are Yours. Grant me good discernment in my daily quest.

THE HOLY CITY

I awoke with Jerusalem on my mind this morning. As surely as the mountains surround the Holy City, the LORD surrounds His people. Though the proud and deceived wish to destroy her, she will forever be held in God’s hands. Lord God Almighty, Lover of My Soul, I pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the safety of its hallowed streets. I pray that Your people remember Your promises and superintendence.

TIDES OF LIFE

Tidal waters have always fascinated me; they are constantly rising higher or diminishing. So it is with everything in life. As one friendship strengthens, another dwindles. Youthful growth turns into retreating health. Treasured things deteriorate and unimagined new things emerge. Foolishness shrinks away and wisdom takes its place. Father Above, You are the Eternal Constant and that with every loss You provide a tidal deposit as a parting gift.

SETTING SAIL

When I look back at my life it is easy to see God’s mighty hand at work. He has carried me through oceans of blessings. Yet, as I stand at the edge of a sea of opportunities ahead, I mostly see churning waves and dangerous obstacles. I hesitate to cast off for the horizon. Heavenly Father, only Your Word and Spirit will turn my gnawing apprehensions into solid faith. Help me today to navigate past my doubts and trust the helm to Your guiding touch.

FATHER'S FINGER

When guiding a child through a delicate passage a father’s finger in a tiny fisted hand is sufficient. Learning to trust the guidance, paying attention and holding on firmly are the tasks at hand for the child. I thought these were lessons learned long ago, yet today I will do the same. And so my Lord, when I need direction, intervene with Your finger. When I am in danger make Your Voice heard. You are my guide, my shield and comfort.

LETDOWNS

Life is replete with letdowns. Some are truly consequential, but most are petty. Yet, the small ones often stick together, mushrooming into something more ominous. If not diminished, discouragement will set in. Learning to cast our disappointments into the sea of God’s love is vital to spiritual advance. Father, may Your unfailing love be my comfort. Fill my heart with Your joy and teach me to console others.

READY

Life can come at you very fast. Things change, that’s it. It sometimes feels like I am again a five-year old with my arm out the window of a car trying to grasp the wind; lot’s of action and movement, little but the immediate experience to show for it. Having a Solomon moment here, so the conclusion: ”Fear God and keep His commandments.” Lord, that is enough. I am ready for another day.

SPEED BUMPS

I loathe speed bumps. Understanding their purpose and safety value doesn’t seem to help. I have devised numerous workarounds to avoid them or limit wheel contact. Commentary on their size, placement, justification and frequency is obligatory. Slowing down when I’m ready to roll just bothers me. Father, I get it. Thank You for the necessary slowdowns of life. I will not resent Your placement of required pauses.

THE GIFT OF TIME

Not one moment is trivial. Time is a gift from God therefore it is holy; The Lord Himself is within it. I should “discern the times” with great care. Past discernment will not do since I must discover the mystery within THIS moment and allow it to unfold completely. Lord Eternal, who was and is and is to come, deliver me from turning mysteries into formulas. Teach me to patiently take it all in.

PASSION

Like a fire, love must be fed. If not regularly fueled, passion will eventually grow cold. Sadly, a heart cools so gradually that it is not easily recognized until it is nearly frigid. A life devoid of affection, with no eagerness, no passionate mission, no devotion, is no life at all. Interestingly, awakening love for one thing often sets ablaze love for many things. Lord of Love, fill my heart with passion for You and help me love others purely.

BLESSINGS

Blessings come in many forms. Some are HUGE and obvious, but most are simple and come unannounced: a thought, a smile, a taste, a touch. It strikes me how unpretentious God is. He can work on any scale, yet stoops to craft a constant stream of unembellished blessings into our lives. Lord God of the Universe, Source of All Blessings, The Majestic One, I praise You for Your humble affection.

SOLID

Things are easily taken for granted. I know this because when something to which I am accustomed is no longer is available, I always feel surprised and disappointed. Presumption, it seems, is a constant nemesis and a headlong path to exaggerated self-importance. God’s answer? Shifting sand, nothing in this world lasts forever. Lord, upon You the Solid Rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. Thank You for the reminder.

PRESENCE

Time invested in considering the life-transforming power of God's PRESENCE is time well spent. Bidden, or not bidden, He is present, but awareness of His presence is a major game changer. Upon awakening, acknowledge God’s Presence. Throughout the day, practice disciplines that cultivate God’s Presence. At the close of each day, rest in God’s Presence. Dearest Lord, grant me GRACE to acquiesce.

EARTHLY TO ETERNAL

My daily challenge is to glorify the greatness of God while still imbedded in human frailty. Each sunrise presents both opportunity and dilemma. Will I, this diurnal passing, move farther from wrongdoing to devotion, from earthliness to heavenly freedom? Father, I praise You for Your grace to be delivered from the thick darkness of doubt. Grant me new faith to walk more perfectly in Your promises.

SAY LESS, DO MORE

We live in an era when there is a growing chasm between words and actions. There is no duplicity in God, what He says, He does. He ”watches over His Word to perform it.” It is time to say less and do more. Lord of Truth and Action, help me to live by deeds rather than mere words. Purge from me all that is false. May my love for others be honest. May I find Your grace to take bold and steady steps.

SO GOOD

I marvel at the goodness of God. He uses us for good in spite of our limitations and failures, then allows us to enjoy the fruit of our efforts that are only successful because of His grace. As the hymnist wrote: “I stand amazed in the Presence.” Oh Lord My Helper, thank You for your kindness. May I be ever aware of Your work in me and through me. Use me as You will. Lord, You are Good.

GRATEFUL PAUSE

They stand at their post as forgetful beneficiaries sleep peacefully in their beds. They tread among explosives, dance under fire, pine for their loved ones, trade pleasures for weapons, merrymaking for freedom and precious time for succeeding generations; life bravely surrendered for the sake of a nation. We the people give grateful pause. Lord, bless our airmen, soldiers, sailors and marines. Receive into Your eternal care our fallen.

MAKE SPACE

I am hard-wired for incessant enterprise, my mind requiring almost constant occupation. In prayer, I heard two words: “make space.” Like a muddied spring or a polluted well, a cluttered mind is functional, but not beneficial. Many whisperings of the Almighty are lost in the din of mental noise. Father, help me to rest in You. Deliver me from relentless mental activity that impedes Your Voice. Teach me to be still.

HIGHBORN NOBILITY

I do not have to make a choice between being a blessing to others or being blessed myself. Choosing to refresh and help others opens the windows of heaven to both the receiver and the giver. Selfishness is a sure path to gnawing sadness and loss of purpose. In sacrificial generosity of time, talent or treasure we discover highborn nobility. Father, You love, You give, You reign; I want to be like You.

SOARING

A kite soaring high while still bound to earth put me thinking: the disciplines that tie me down are designed by God to lift me higher. Left to the wind alone, a kite will fly but soon crash. The string that holds it back actually gives it lift as it is let out slowly, the wind carrying it to dizzying heights. Father, thank you for the commitments I sometimes resent. With Your binding hand and lifting breath, there are no limits.

MORE TO THE STORY

Concerning the work of God in our lives, there is always more to the story. Whatever we see as we face difficult or complicated circumstances is never the full picture. The divine purpose behind every moment far outweighs whatever temporary discomfort we feel. In these occasions there is no substitute for knowing God’s love and promises. Father, Lover of My Soul, I praise You for Your faithful care.

FICKLE FEELINGS

Today’s disappointments often overshadow a lifetime of blessings. Clouds may temporarily block the rays of light the sun provides, but even in the darkest storm sunlight still brightly shines above. I must remind myself to rise above the tempest of temporary letdowns and to remember God’s goodness and mercy. Father, forgive my fickle feelings. I will forever praise You and exalt Your Name.

THERE IS GOD AND I AM NOT HIM

Here I am again acutely aware of a simple fact, there is God and I am not Him. Why then am I still surprised when His choices are not my own? I must now turn my attention to what I definitively know: God is good and perfect in all His ways. So, I plod ahead, trusting the future is firmly in the Almighty’s hands. Father, acknowledging the limitations of my earth-born nature, but taking courage from Your awesome perfection, I declare I am blessed in all things.

DAY OF DECISION

Making hard decisions is a major inconvenience. While every serious decision requires a viable process, certain decisions require even more. Today is a seminal moment for the direction of America. The world’s future will be impacted by the decisions made across the fruited plain. To fail to decide is to let someone else decide for you. So, here it is, if you have not already: PRAY, LISTEN, THINK, COMMIT, GET OUT AND VOTE.

GENTLE TOUCH

One of life’s greatest gifts is a reassuring hand on the shoulder. It is almost miraculous how, in the blink of an eye, a simple gesture can wipe away concealed pain or encourage a step of faith. How often have I missed the opportunity to offer something so valuable, yet easy to give? Father, help me today to be Your hand extended to someone’s moment of need. Thank You for Your constant gentle touch.

GRACE TO KNUCKLE UNDER

There is no substitute for the supremacy of Christ. He alone must be enthroned in my heart. Most of my troubles are rooted in stubborn attempts to pull away from His dominion over the length and breadth of my life. Until all that is mine is conceded, all that is His will elude me. Oh God my King, I acknowledge Your Lordship, help me to relinquish every portion. Grant me grace to knuckle under.

FREEDOM

I am marveling in my freedom today. It starts deep in the soul and moves outwardly. Still, many deeply embedded obstacles stubbornly resist the liberty God grants, yet I am increasingly free to choose to whom I yield. That’s right, freedom is not independence, it is the ability to choose whom you serve, to obligate oneself without unsolicited interference. Dearest Lord, I am Yours. My all for You.

LOVE LIFTS

Whether being given or received, love lifts. What a gift! I can change my daily experience even when I have limited power to change my circumstances. A deeper understanding of God’s love opens the floodgates and empowers us to pour it out to others, even to the most unlovable. Lord of Love, use me today as a downspout of Your love. Help me offer it without limitation. I already feel the lift.

SWIMMING IN A CURRENT

It is as if I am swimming in a steady current. I can swim with it and move faster, or I can swim against it and go the opposite direction, but, as I fatigue, the current slowly moves me again. In spite of my resistance, God is working in me and moving me toward my created purpose. This is at once comforting and exasperating. Father, I get it, yielding is the only solution. Thank You for keeping me on course.

BEYOND THE COMMON COURSE

The salt marshes along the southern coast can be tricky to navigate. However, leaving the safety of the marked channels opens endless rewards; great fishing, beautiful wildlife and a serene sense of privacy. Constantly changing tides and a kaleidoscope of colors from the diurnal passing of Sun and Moon seem divinely composed. Lord, remind me to explore the opportunities around me. Teach me to seek the unseen beyond the common course.

TRIUMPH

The life of faith is not a matter of imagined outcome. Biblical faith reaches for concrete, yet unseen reality; each step ignited by divine spark. Only actions first bathed in Holy Promise will be sufficiently purged of the darkness of doubt. Father, teach me to rest assured in Your Providence while straining toward Your will. You alone kindle true belief and You alone can carry me safely to triumph.

INFORMING GOD

I find myself praying as if I were a reporter, informing God of currents events. Prayer should never be an attempt to enlighten the “Greater One” who knows all things. Rather than pointing to circumstances, my prayers should allow circumstances to point to me, to what needs to change in my heart and actions. Lord, shine the Light of Your Presence upon that which You desire to transform.

NEVER ALONE

Why give in to the convenience of discouragement? Despair offers no reward. The path of trust is much steeper, but grants still waters, restored soul. The Lord is ALWAYS our Great Shepherd, even when we are wholly unaware of it. In the deepest, darkest valley I never trod alone. Oh Shepherd of my soul, from sinking sand, You lift me, With tender hand, You lift me, all is well.

FLOPPY BRANCHES

Another hurricane is scraping by. The real danger is to our north, but its outer bands are spewing rain and trees are dancing wildly in the wind. Palm trees, with their long, slim trunks and floppy branches perched at the very top, seem fragile until these moments. Actually, they handle the tempest better than stately oaks. Father, I get it, what often appears as strength is not. Help me stay firmly planted in You.

CLOUDS OF RELUCTANCE

I must ultimately surrender to God alone. My own will or even the best intentions of others will never do. The most difficult discovery is just how much resistance is imbedded in our souls. We were each created by God’s love for purpose and destiny; to ignore the will of God is to deny His exquisite love and all-knowing brilliance. Lord of All, forgive my insolence. May Your intent for my life never be shadowed by clouds of reluctance.

SEIZE THE DAY

A new day, another shot at obedience. Complications, diversions and agitations are always present, but the chance to serve God THIS day will not return. As compelling as distractions might be, I must let them fall behind. Today I will seize the day by pursuing the opportunities that God presents. Dear Father, deliver me from disorientation, direct my steps. Thank You for divine focus.

CAST ANCHOR

Comfort zones quickly become dead zones. God reveals His ardent love by propelling me into the joy of breaking through again and again. Would I ever step out in faith without His prompting? Would I cast anchor without approaching storms? I will never know, for His love never ceases. King of Glory, thank You for Your Divine impulse, Your compelling love, Your relentless pursuit.

WORDS

What comes out of my mouth has more effect on my life than most anything else. As powerful as we know that words are, we carelessly spew them out to our own harm or that of others. On the other hand, we often fail to release the power of life that words contain. Simply stated, life and death are in the tongue. Holy Father, my lips are Yours. Make my mouth a portal of life, not death; blessing not nuisance.

THE INCONVENIENTLY SURRENDERED LIFE

Walking with God is inherently inconvenient. It cannot be done consistently without constant rearrangement of personal priorities and commitments. Daily infusion of Word and Spirit are vital, but no less so than openness to hear and obey. I am not significantly better at this process now than when it began in my life, but I am still making progress. Lord, Your relentless pursuit and unmitigated love are my strength and hope. Help me knuckle under.

DISCERNMENT

There is no dependable substitute for divinely guided discernment. We need good judgment to distinguish between inspired thoughts and selfish fantasies; they often appear the same at first glance. The immature mind, driven by personal desire, can be easily confused. Imagination is a gift from God, but must be brought under obedience to God. Lord of Creation, teach me to truly submit my thoughts to You today.

MORNING LIGHT

The transformation between the dark of night to morning light never loses its fascination for me. Some days easily, others reluctantly, like metal to magnet I am drawn to its power to awaken. There are so many parallels between sunrise and the way God pulls me into His will. Each day He quietly moves into my darkness, His resplendent Presence renovating my soul. Lord of Light, I welcome Your approach. Yes, this is good.

GREATER THINGS

Yesterday’s quota of bricks dutifully met, its residue is still with me. Mud and straw again before me, I am ready. Today? Greater things are yet ahead, prompted by the inexhaustible benevolence of the Greater One. Lord, teach me faithfulness through daily obedience, each moment submitted to Your care. Grant me grace this day to build an enduring legacy of submission to Your pleasure.

VALVE WIDE OPEN

God wants to love others through me; I sometimes cringe at His choices. There is pain in the offering, but there is no escape. To experience His love opens our heart to the surge of His love for all. While I mostly enjoy this process, there are moments when I wish to shut off the valve after quenching my own thirst. Lord of Love, forgive me for holding back. Take my life and make it Yours.