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Showing posts from June, 2014

SEEDS

The more I take care of something, the more attached to it I become. Meaningfulness and recompense directly correspond to what I have deposited. This is the principle of sowing and reaping. If I seek love I must first scatter seeds of love. Should I desire increased fulfillment I must help someone else find it. Every seed produces after its own kind, so I must first plant the harvest I desire. Gracious Lord, You placed fruitfulness in every seed and established seedtime and harvest for our good. Guide me to fertile ground and teach me discipline that I may only sow what is good.

I CAN

The deepest darkness of night cannot hold back the morning light, nor can circumstances restrain hope. I am not referring to the garden-variety hope wishful thinking produces; I am talking about hope that is rooted in God’s Promises. God’s Word is an inexhaustible fountain of hope from which I may contently drink at all times. God’s Calling comes fully loaded. The very thought of the transcendent “I AM” dispels my fears and grants instant, unmitigated hope. Lord of Hope, You are the Great I AM and in that declaration my heart knows “I CAN” do all things through Your strength.

REPRESENT

Watching World Cup matches reminds me how important self-identification is. The rules allow players with duel citizenships to choose which country they represent. Since I am born of this world, yet through spiritual rebirth, now a citizen of Heaven, I too, can choose who I represent. As I hit the field today, with whom will I identify? This is no game; my Savior came down from Heaven and identified Himself with my brokenness that I may now identify with His righteousness. Holy Father, no excuses, no equivocation, I belong to You. I am in this world but no longer of it. Help me faithfully represent.

THE SEEDBED OF MIRACLES

A wedding celebration seems an unlikely place for a miracle, but a sidebar conversation between a mother and her son invoked a great one. Human need, recognition of God’s authority, a personal request and obedience are the raw materials of miracles. Water was turned to wine as compliant servants obeyed the simple but life-transforming command: “Whatever he says, do it.” The seedbed of miracles is straightforward; we must turn every circumstance of life over to the King of Kings and then do what He says. Blessed Savior, I place myself and all I survey into Your capable hands.

OUR GLORIOUS BENEFACTOR

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 low to quietly craft a constant stream of unembellished blessings into our lives. He does not hold back for our lack of acknowledgement; His unrequited love pours forth without restraint. Lord God, Source of All Blessings and Glorious Benefactor, sin has dulled my senses and I am slow to see, but in this moment of reflective contrition I glorify You for Your humble affection.

IT IS WELL

Disappointments are as much a part of life as breathing; reality rarely matches our expectations. Dwelling on letdowns, large or small, leads to discouragement and despair, turning our world into a rusting junkyard. There is a more excellent way; I will dwell on the goodness of the Lord and confidently trust that He is in control.  I will surrender anew to the Lord of Lords, allowing Him to organize victory out of what appears to be defeat. Almighty God, Ruler of the Universe, You are working Your master plan. What you start you finish, what You promise is fulfilled. It is well with my soul.

UNVEILED

Each new daybreak brings me one day closer to an unveiled look into the face of my Creator and Redeemer. The very thought of it brings forth both excitement and trepidation. To see as I am seen and know as I am known is at once exhilarating and frightening. I am comforted to know that He Himself is making me fit for that moment. I am keenly aware the actions and attitudes of my heart fall short of His glory, but He will finish what He started. Lord of Mercy and Grace, once more I remember, only by Your grace and mercy do I stand. You alone are able to prepare me for Your Presence.

ENVY

Envy is a doorway to deep darkness. In the first place, wishing for someone else’s good fortune is to question God’s wisdom and goodness. We wonder: “Why them and not me?” and by doing so, judge God as unfair. Secondly, to cherry pick from another person’s life is foolish because we choose what we would like, but ignore their sorrows and pain. Finally, to feel that we deserve better is an insidious form of pride. The Bible declares: “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Father, in You I have all things in One, therefore I lack for nothing. You withhold no good thing from Your children.

FORWARD IN FAITH

As it was for Abraham, so it is for us. Every step of obedient faith holds the promise of inheritance. Looking behind adds nothing to my future, but stepping forward with eyes lifted means territory added.  Will I delay in unholy dependence upon my known resources or will I hear and obey? I choose the latter, renouncing the freezing effect of fear and embracing what is ahead by faith. Stepping forward in yielded obedience is the only safe path. O Lord my Rock, strengthen my resolve with Your divine touch. Open my eyes to the previously unseen. Guide my feet to Your chosen path.

DANCING THROUGH THE STORM

I have passed through a few hurricanes over a lifetime. As outer bands spew copious amounts of rain and trees dance wildly in the powerful winds, there is an eerie beauty and justifiable fear. 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. While huge trees tear apart the Palms just dance through the storm. Father, I get it; what may appear as strength is not. You design each of us with unseen, inexplicable strength. Help me stay firmly planted in You as I dance through the storm.

KINGDOM COMRADES

I deeply appreciate the depths of alliance and devotion that is formed while under fire. Relationships forged in the furnace of much affliction gain an inner strength like tempered metal. Surface disputes remain, but inwardly, a code is formed and covenant is knitted deeply into the heart. I never served in the military but I feel more in common with those who climbed Normandy’s Cliffs that than with those who only accept convenient truths and shallow devotion. Lord, grant me a warrior’s heart. Free me from temporal entanglements and bind my heart to Kingdom comrades.

ALL THINGS

Here I am again on the precipice of a new day. As I prepare for what is ahead I am acutely aware of a simple fact, there is a 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 earthly ways, but taking courage from Your awesome perfection, I move ahead. I can do all things through Your strength; use me this day to advance Your holy work on earth.

MOCKERY

I notice an increase of coarse talk everywhere. Justified criticism that should always be delivered with a modicum of humility is now expressed with mocking and harsh judgment of motives. Unbridled tongues are harmful and dangerous for both the speaker and hearer. Love grows when a fault is exposed and forgiven, but dwelling on it destroys any chance of reconciliation; a floodgate is difficult to shut once opened. Gracious God, forgive my loose talk. I do not want to become a fool through unchecked mockery of others, nor gain Your wrath for unfairly judging those You made in Your image.

DUMPING HAPPINESS

Since human happiness is rooted in earthly circumstances, it is temporal; It comes and goes with ebbs and flows like tidal waters. Over a lifetime we learn to anticipate its departure soon after its arrival since we know that circumstances never stay the same. The Joy of the Lord is very different. Unlike circumstantial happiness, the Joy of God sticks since it is rooted in the Eternal One. Joy is not frivolous giddiness, instead it brings deep gladness, exquisite texture and is loaded with extras. Lord, I'm dumping human happiness. I love Your joy, no cheap substitute will suffice. You are my Joy and Crown.

FATHERS

Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there. One of the greatest privileges of life is the gift of fatherhood. The goodness of God is that fatherhood is not reserved only for those who have natural born children. There are fathers of movements, universities, cities and nations. All good examples of fathers, knowingly or not, point us to our Creator, our Heavenly Father.
I have had many fathers on many levels and today I offer thanks to God for each and every one. I especially want to honor my own sons, Barry, Ben, Brian and Rob. They are, to the man, very good fathers and I am proud of each. My spiritual sons (Sean, Joe, Roger, frankly, too many to mention here, you know who you are) have also been a significant part of shaping my life by drawing me deeper into the blessedness of fatherhood.
I want to first honor my own natural father, James Oliver Williams, who passed when I was but twelve. His life left a powerful impact on my family. I honor my older brothers LaRue and Wayne, wh…

THE FURNACE

It has practically become a cultural virtue to fantasize about self-importance. What a waste of precious life to idolize oneself. In the end, all that will matter is what we have done for God by doing for others. I don’t want my life to finish as a half burned log. Only in the furnace of a sold out life will all that must, be completely incinerated. Only there will God-given potential burn bright to the end, nothing wasted, all fully spent.  Lord, Yours is the power to make me the man that pleases You. Blow upon the embers You have placed within me and cause my whole life to burn white hot for Your will in the earth.

GARBAGE PICK-UP DAY

We live in a condo community where everything is very neat and uniform. It pretty much looks the same most of the time, except on trash day. Even then, we all have exactly the same huge garbage and recycling bins, designed to be emptied by an automated refuse system. It all seems so tidy. But let’s face it; inside those bins is garbage. They stand at attention, symmetrically spaced, lids closed, but no matter how we dress it up, life is messy. Glorious Father, forgive my attempts to hide my rubbish. My wrongdoing knows no limits, yet You do not turn away in disgust. Cleanse me afresh.

CONFLICT

Conflict is a constant and unwelcome companion of the human condition. But there is good news; our struggles often turn us to God. The strife we so despise leads the sincere of heart to self-examination, repentance and renewed commitment. Self-generated transformation is always too limited in its scope, so conflicts are a necessary part of the process of full surrender. Much of my spiritual progress has been gained by way of conflict, trial, pressure and adversity. Father, You are an exquisite finisher. You take what the enemy of our soul means for bad and turn it to good.

LOOSE LIVING

There is an unexplainable freedom in the painful discovery that nothing in this life is permanent. The human soul was created to live in eternal covenant and longs for things that last; so much so that we stubbornly ignore the temporariness of this world. We pretend that earthly things are more transcendent than they can possibly be, then feel shocked when they are not. Eternal Father, You alone are boundless. You have set eternity in our hearts that we may rightly measure this life. Help me hold temporary things of this world loosely while gripping eternal things with all my might.

THE INCONVENIENCE OF FAITH

It seems there is no limit to our passion for greater convenience. A society that so highly esteems non-stop personal accommodation produces a deep aversion to sacrifice. People of faith are uniquely harmed by this obsession with immediate gratification since convenience is the enemy of obedience. The very nature of faith requires acting upon the unseen regardless of the circumstances and waiting steadfastly for God’s timing and methods. Lord of Promise, cut me loose from the earthly contrivance. Bridle my impatient impulses and careless disregard of Your chosen ways and means.

VIGILANT VICTORY

On a recent morning walk I saw a large hawk being chased by a tiny bird. Small birds become very aggressive when a predator comes near their nest; they use their agility and quickness to intimidate a much larger bird and eventually the larger bird just goes away. In the same manner, I must be vigilant and defiant to be a victor in life. At times I simply accept the presence of hovering danger, thinking I am powerless to change my circumstances. Not so. Blessed Lord, You have not left me defenseless. Though my strength seems small, I can do all things with Your help.

COMMON SENSE

It sometimes seems that common sense is no longer so common. Convoluted rationales rooted in reimagining the world to revolve around one’s own personal happiness is the culprit. The principles of right and wrong or common good get completely lost in an environment of “do your own thing no matter what” and “if it feels right it must be right for you”. Not so for the true followers of the Master. A Biblical worldview puts ultimate truth back into its proper place. Lord of Light, align my heart and mind to truth. Calibrate my human reasoning to knowledge, wisdom and divine love.

BEYOND THE BRASH

A gentle summer rain graces my morning start. It has life giving, air cleansing, drought reversing power, yet it is soft and delicate. Big and brash are not always necessary to effect significant change. Many of life’s most powerful events are subtle: a smile, a hand on the shoulder, or a kind word. Life changing splendor can be seen in the grandeur of the Northern Lights or as simply as a in leaf drifting on the surface of a creek. Father, thank You for the reminder; Your transforming power is always at work in all things. Open my eyes to Your greatness in things both colossal and miniscule.

DAYBREAK

Daybreak has a soft quietness to it that feeds the soul. God’s whispers seem more easily heard in the gentle rollout of a new day. Soon the world awakens and the still of dawn is lost in the cacophony of life. An indispensable characteristic of the God-directed life is hearing and obeying the voice of God. Before charging ahead into battle I must confer with my Commander In Chief and prepare for what is ahead. Dearest Lord of Life, early will I seek You. Thank You for the blessedness of morning’s silence. Teach me to hear accurately and obey swiftly. Clear my heart from earthly entanglements.

THE WAY OF MAN

The capacity of the human heart to get it wrong is stunning. The God-given creativity of thought we are born with must be balanced with the restraint of discernment and divine wisdom or our imagination will run dangerously wild. Unsupported assertions and cherry-picked information can be constructed into a seemingly airtight conclusion when truth is not humbly and sincerely sought. Scripture warns: “every way of man is right in his own eyes.” Lord of Truth, tear down every stronghold of deception in me and shine the light of truth upon every shadow of darkness. Guide me to Your highest and best.

ANOTHER MIRACLE

Darkness cannot hold back light; the moment it appears darkness scampers away. As believers we do not simply walk in the light, we are light in this dark world. Should I have no more than this day, the miracle is that I have it at all. God has granted me another sunrise. Each unveiling moment comes jam packed with opportunity, surprise, blessing, and challenge. I stand at an empty slate board with chalk in my hand. Blessed Giver of Life, guide my hand. Strengthen my resolve to not simply drift along through this new day. Grant me discernment to unearth its treasures.

DEFIANT DELAY

Politeness is a sign of maturity and culture, but there is no such thing as polite disobedience. If it is in my power to act on God’s directives, but I choose to delay, then I am rightly held accountable. It is very simple really; we promptly serve the one we love the most. The test of love is not so much the size of our response as much as it is the speed of our love. Unrequited love is painful to the human heart, how selfish it is to inconsiderately grieve God by resisting His will. Father, You deserve my immediate surrender and obedience. Forgive me and deliver me from my defiant delay.

CHASING THE WIND

The seemingly universal mantra “Follow your dream” is constantly declared from kindergartens to Ivory League classrooms, from kitchen tables to pulpits, from boardrooms to backyards; but is it sound advice? Dreams can become nightmares. For the person of faith, dreams, like every other human desire, must be bathed in holy surrender to the Giver of Life. I refuse to substitute an earthly dream for my heavenly calling. God’s dream for my life must become my relentless, singular pursuit. Lord God, Your will does not diminish my life. Pull me this day deeper into Your purpose and plans.

READY

It is too late to push away this new day; it is here, I must now deal with its arrival. So I will embrace its treasures and troubles alike. However things unfold, it will all work for my good as I am being conformed into the image of Him who created me with unfathomable love and immeasurable goodness. Wisdom is waiting at every turn; delightful discoveries and teachable moments spread throughout. I need not fear, whatever comes must ultimately pass my Heavenly Father’s approval. My Lord and Keeper, I steady myself, prepared by Your Words and guided by Your Holy Unction. This will be good.