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Showing posts from July, 2014

JUST BEYOND REACH

Having raised a houseful of children we learned a few things about the challenges and blessings of childhood curiosity. We often kept things just out of their reach. As a child of God I must keep in mind that whatever is beyond my reach was put there by Him. In some cases things are just beyond touch to urge me forward, in others, the extra distance is for my protection. Ultimately, the One who places things beyond my grasp can just as easily drop them in my lap if it accomplishes His will. Blessed Lord, I trust Your ways, knowing that what is inaccessible for me is firmly in Your grip.

PERSPECTIVE

What looks like a life-ending boulder tumbling and rumbling down the mountain toward me is no more than a harmless granule of sand to the Lord Almighty. What looks like a measly kernel of corn to me is in God’s eyes a never-ending supply of harvest after harvest. It is abundantly clear I must face life with God’s perspective and not my own. Father, what is heavy for me is light as a feather for You and what is beyond my reach is centered in the palm of Your mighty hand. Open the eyes of my understanding to see the greatness of Your power and the depth of Your unending love.

SPEED BUMPS

I really do loathe speed bumps so I avoid them as much as possible. Understanding their purpose and safety value doesn’t seem to help my attitude toward them whatsoever. Over time I have devised numerous workarounds to circumvent them or limit wheel contact. Commentary on their size, placement, justification and frequency is seemingly obligatory. Slowing down when I’m ready to roll just bothers me. Father, I think I understand; thank You for the necessary slowdowns of life. While I may never come to appreciate earthly speed bumps, I will not resent Your placement of required pauses.

IRRATIONAL STRUGGLE

Like a wounded animal that bites at the hand that feeds it, at times I irrationally struggle against the tenderness of God’s embrace. Only when my heart trusts His care do I receive the benefits of His guiding hand. We were made in His Image but our souls still bear the scars of the ravages of worldliness. Though He Himself carried our sorrows and healed our woundedness upon Calvary’s hill, we now turn away from His work to reshape us. Blessed Father, forgive my attempts to resist. Through Your boundless care I am Atoned and re-established in the fullness of Your salvation.

LEARNING STATIONS

Since divine correction and instruction are the way to true life God places learning stations throughout each new day. My tendency is to brush past each lesson too quickly, confident of what I think I know. But God’s goodness wins out, and despite my attempts to move on, I find myself back at the same learning stations again and again. There is no earthly graduation in this school, only when I see Him will I be like Him. Rolling stops will not do, so I must learn to come to a full stop at each station. Dear Father, thank You for Your persistent tutelage and unending patience.

HONEST LOVE

We are commanded to “speak the truth in Love” but much of what we try to pass off as honesty is grounded in fear. We typically tell the truth only when we are reluctantly exposed, or feel it necessary to protect something we value. This fare of “honesty” rooted in selfishness bears almost no resemblance to honesty motivated by love. Pure truth makes us free, but when it is delivered in a vessel polluted with mixed motives it loses much of its transforming power. Lord of Love and Truth, You never mix truth with manipulation. Your love is pure and Your words bring life eternal.

IDENTITY

This generation seems to constantly yearn for personal identity, using material things, causes, cliques or practically anything else to discover and proclaim who they are. As a believer I need not chase after identity. I am not what I possess or what I have accomplished; I am who God designed me to be, I am who God declared me to be and I am not my own. I need not search for identity since He knew me while still in my mother’s womb and brought me into this earth to do His bidding. Lord God, I gladly fall into Your embrace and surrender all pursuits to Your perfect plan. I delight to do Your will.

PANIC

The storm on the lake that prompted the disciples to wake Jesus from sound sleep had the disciples in mortal fear. Their panic made them feel he didn’t care. He awoke and spoke peace to the storm. The size of our crisis causes no panic on His part. God has no panic attacks; He attacks our panic. Since He is not bound by time nor limited in capacity, He cannot be confounded or set back by earthly resistance. He is the Eternal Sovereign, the Almighty, the Lord of All and the Lord our Peace. Heavenly Father, Your timing, Your way, Your will, that’s it! My storms are in Your hands; I rest assured.

TUMBLING WALLS

It is said “love is blind,” but it is contempt that truly blinds. Those given over to hatred and offense will believe anything that reinforces their ire regardless of how preposterous the accusations may be. Like the walls of Jericho, a stronghold of prejudice fueled by anger is practically impenetrable. The solution for each of us is the same as it was for the biblical city; a combination of human obedience and divine intervention made the difference. Glorious Lord and King, tumble down every wall of contempt in my heart. Sound the trumpet of Zion that I may march forward in victory.

UNFAILING

I have made many successful repairs over a lifetime by learning how to fix things by first taking them apart. There have been times when I could not put together what I had previously dismantled. Thankfully, God needs no practice, what He takes apart He can make even better than before. I really don’t know why I sometimes struggle to trust in His unfailing love. Everything He creates is created in love. Everything He redeems is redeemed in His love. Lover of My Soul, You are perfect in all Your ways. What You remove must go and what You provide is the very best. Blessed be Your Name.

TILL WE MEET AGAIN

Another friend has slipped into eternity. So many times I have been at this fork in the road, but I never get used to it. One last earthly wave must do until our paths again meet on the other side. Whether delayed or swift, death is certain, however, its sting is swallowed up in victory for those assured by faith. Through the valley of shadows there is no fear, only an assurance that goodness and mercy will accompany us along the way. Father, in Your appointed moment, my soul will ascend in pure delight. Thank you for those who bravely pave the way by leaving a legacy of faithfulness.

THE OTHER SIDE

Recently, huge thunderstorms rolled through. There were menacingly dark clouds, furious wind, brilliant lightening, explosive thunder and blinding rain. Just minutes later the storm left an unexpected gift. A soft golden glow resplendent through a delicate mist appeared where there had been mayhem just minutes before. An indescribably beautiful moment was gifted by way of a very angry storm. O Lord my God, You never miss an opportunity to teach me Your ways. Thank You for the reminder, there is blessing on the other side of every trial of life. You make all things new.

THE STAGE

To openly live a life of faith is not a proclamation of personal perfection. In fact, the opposite is true. My imperfections become the stage upon which the amazing grace and relentless love of God are displayed. In my weakness, His awesome strength is discovered and brought to the forefront. Glossing over our foibles presents a false image of the believer’s life and in the end does more harm than good. Lord, You are my Fortress and Deliverer, reveal Yourself in me. May my failings spotlight Your exquisiteness. May my need for constant redemption encourage others to seek the same.

MERCY ME

The depth of God’s mercy is revealed most clearly in the moments when we have utterly disqualified ourselves from it. Even when the mind cannot conceive it, the heart cannot believe it and circumstances will not reveal it, He unceasingly continues His Divine care. His mercy is never dimmed nor shaded by the darkness of my ignorance. God is not good because we know it; He is good because it is His very nature. Father of Mercy and Grace, unblock my blinded vision of you. My sweet consolation in life is to know the riches of Your tender mercy and offer it freely to others.

DIVINE LIFE

It is embarrassing to admit but I sometimes envy the arrogant. Unbelievers and believers alike can surround their hearts with self-focus and seemingly prosper free of the burdens of sacrifice and servanthood. Then I enter the sanctuary of God’s Word and Presence and come to my senses. Shallow, happy feelings are no suitable substitute for eternal joy; the temporal simply cannot compare to the eternal. Losing focus on what truly matters drains away our sense of purpose and destiny. Lord, forgive my bouts of momentary insanity. Your will and ways are the fountain of divine life.

SONSHIP

While I have grown spiritually over a lifetime I continue to struggle with the same basic human issues. This discouraged me as a younger man, causing me to question the veracity of my faith, but my response is different these days. I am now actually encouraged by the knowledge that it is the work of God’s grace upon which I must wholly depend; it always has been, it always will be. While I must still strive for perfection, it is the Lord Himself who brings Sonship into full manifestation. Father, I gladly trust upon Your good work in me. You provide a liberty and confidence that self-assurance never could.

OPEN

Many things catch my passing interest, but few awaken my soul or provoke me to significant change. At times, matters from the depths of God’s heart call to the depths of my own. These moments mostly emerge without my intentional provocation, but do require alertness and response. Like an overstuffed suitcase, an over-packed heart leaves little room for anything new. I never know what will move me until something does, so I must continually keep my heart open to God’s preparations.Lord, help me stay alert; I do not want to miss Your whisperings. I will wait and watch.

PARTNERS WITH THE ALMIGHTY

Too often, I give preference to my own thoughts, my own ways. After so many self-generated disappointments, still I cling to useless ideas and postponed obedience. Each new act of obedience to God begins a chain of unending blessing and invites additional opportunities to make genuine spiritual progress. That we are granted such collaboration with the Almighty is remarkable enough, but to understand that He actually 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, completely and consistently.

DETOURS

I am almost always in a hurry to arrive at the destination so I usually plan my route well in advance. Forced detours rarely make me happy at first, but some of my most pleasant moments of travel came as a result of going off the beaten path. Every part of my soul needs refreshing and retooling. Doing the same things the same way over and over may be comforting on the surface, but my heart longs for adventure. To seriously follow after the things of God is to guarantee constant detours and new ground covered. Father, You made me as I am. Grant me grace to take the path of Your choosing.

HOUSE OF MIRRORS

Children have a fascination with mirrors and I was no exception. Few mirrors got by me without at least a passing glance. I was quite young the first time I visited a House of Mirrors, what an interesting, funny and creepy experience. I quickly realized a false image is entertaining but useless. As we mature we use status, relationships, accomplishments and popularity to reveal who we are, but this too is merely a house of mirrors. Lord of Truth, only You can accurately reveal the man I am. I thank you for the accuracy of Your Word and Spirit. Transform every part of me into a son who pleases you.

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE

With the Red Sea ahead, the dust-filled sky above and Pharaoh’s army in hot pursuit, God’s counsel seemed impossible: “Do not be afraid, the Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.” Seriously? Be still? Every human instinct is to try to mitigate circumstances such as this. Yet, when all efforts fail we are not without recourse. When we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place it is time to climb. God had said to Moses: “I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand.” Father, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Cover me with your mighty hand and make me still.

MYSTERIES UNFOLDED

Faith, Hope and Love are so bound together that the exercise of any one activates the others. As is the Holy Trinity, they are distinct in practice, but in fact, are three in one. Like facets of a diamond, even the slightest turn toward one releases the resplendent beauty of all. If you truly believe, then love will abound. When love abounds hope is raised. When hope rises, faith is released. What a glorious trinity of tools in our hands provided by God for knowing Him and doing His will. Blessed Trinity, Your mysteries are beyond earthly comprehension, yet may be practiced by a child. I stand amazed.

WHEN ASSURANCE EXCEEDS IGNORANCE

There is no trepidation in not knowing what is ahead if you can count on someone trustworthy who does. Indescribable rest is released when assurance exceeds ignorance. The unknown paralyzes, but knowing the All-Knowing One mobilizes. Like a small child being led across a busy road by his father, the firm grip of God pulls me along with little concern of harm. I am in good hands, being taken where He leads, so I will therefore move forward in confidence and peace. O Lord Most High, You are my trustworthy guide. Lead me wherever You will. I do not fear Your guidance.

FORGIVENESS

God is perfect in all His ways therefore nothing can measure up to Him. Without His pardon no one could enter His Presence nor be worthy of His Holy Gaze. Forgiveness is a central element of His nature therefore it is impossible for me to be a godly person while withholding forgiveness from others. Godliness is godlikeness; to refuse to forgive is repudiation of His nature and ways. Hatred is powerful, but forgiveness is even more so. O Lord of Mercy and Grace, thank You forgiving me. Cleanse my heart of every vestige of unforgiveness toward others that I may be more like You.

BOMBS AWAY

Carpet Bombing isa warfare tactic that is designed to inflict significant damage in every part of a selected area of land. Our hearts and minds endure constant saturation bombing; the Information Age has not produced better-informed people. We wisely guard our physical eyes with safety goggles when they are endangered, but do not guard our heart, the most important source of enlightenment. Father, Your Word and Spirit provide both safety and instruction vital to my spiritual progress. In the midst of the cacophony of this modern world, help me keep my heart attuned to You.

HIDDEN PERILS

I once I saw a large log silently float by in the middle of the river I was standing next to. Most of its bulk was suspended silently below the surface. It struck me that something as docile and inert as a fallen tree can be deadly in certain circumstances. I offered a prayer for passing boaters, then one for myself. How many seemingly harmless things float just below the surface in my life? Lord God, Captain of My Soul, expose in me those things that are harmful and clear them away. Remove from my heart every hidden peril and use me to bring safe passage and blessing others.

NEGLIGENT

Why am I still surprised how quickly things deteriorate? Everything of this world does. Much of my attention is focused on what is new, fresh and cutting-edge but I am often negligent with what I already have. I don’t care much about new material things. What captures my attention is new experiences, fresh understanding, and cutting-edge effectiveness. But, like physical things, neglected relationships or unapplied knowledge will deteriorate. Father, forgive my negligence. You rightly require good stewardship. Help me be faithful with what I already have been given.

PREJUDICE

It is no bother at all to simply categorize someone we don’t like or understand under a cherished prejudice and to ignore or even revile them. However, there is grave danger in turning away too quickly; to mistreat, disregard or malign others is to show contempt for their Maker. I must never forget that the differences I sometimes resent have God’s fingerprints on them. Father, help me to love as You love. I thank You for confronting my preconceived notions. Tear away every remaining bias in my soul and grant me a discerning heart. Teach me to love genuinely and deeply.

FRIENDLY FIRE

An intense battle poses many dangers, not the least of which is “friendly fire”. Accidental attacks on friendly forces while attempting to attack the enemy is one of the most tragic aspects of war. Nothing about the battlefield is pleasant, but to be taken out by those for whom you fight adds insult and deep pain to an already bad situation. I have seen it in spiritual battles as well. At times, when we are counting on our comrades in arms, they turn weapons on their own. Lord, keep me attentive in the fog of war. May I never be confused about who the true enemy is; I am my brother’s keeper.

ROAD TRIP

“Early will I seek You,” sound advice from a shepherd boy turned King. No doubt, every day quickly filled with bleating sheep, constant demands and approaching dangers, but David had learned by experience, God first, that’s it.  Why delay? Like a road trip, starting late means additional traffic. Prayerful meditations do not belong bumper to bumper on a crowded freeway, the cares of this world cutting into holy space; other things can wait. O Shepherd and King of my soul, early will I seek You. Help me set aside encroaching thoughts and concerns that I may seek You first and always.

TRUE NORTH

Setting your bearing on a destination is not enough; arrival to the right spot requires navigation. Even the most accurate compass is not sufficient since “Magnetic North” changes, depending on where you are on the planet. The difference between Magnetic north and True north is slight, but the longer the journey the more important navigating the difference becomes. In similar manner, there is a slight but critical difference between what is true and what is truth. What is true will vary a bit, but truth never changes. Father, guide my steps and lead me into truth. Deliver me from false images of Your will and ways.