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Showing posts from August, 2014


Calamities happen, crawling into a cave of self-pity only deepens the problems. “Why me?” Why now?” “Why this?” These questions only lead to greater sorrow. The right question is “What”; ”what does the Lord require of me?” As it turns out the simple prayer taught to children as they pray over their food begins with a keystone principle: “God is great, God is Good.” Knowing the greatness and goodness of God is vital for significant spiritual progress, especially when things seemingly go wrong. Father, Creator of Heaven and Earth, I am at rest in Your limitless care.


The rivers in the city where I’ve lived most of my life are tidal. Each day they rise and fall, widen and narrow, providing a constantly changing panorama. Every tidal cycle quietly deposits new debris on their banks and lifts away what had been previously dropped by. In many ways, my whole life is tidal. People come and go, problems and blessings arrive unannounced then slip away and interesting surprises float by. Lord of All Creation, You never cease depositing and withdrawing. I love Your ways.


Our family lived in Costa Rica for a few years and on several occasions we visited Mt. Poas, a very active volcano having erupted dozens of times in recorded history. We were always dazzled by the spectacular view of the huge, steaming crater. On a couple of visits we never saw more than clouds; its incredible power and girth shrouded by something as fleeting and inert as vapor. In like manner, passing clouds of needs and desires often obscure my view of God’s power and might. Father Almighty, forgive me for allowing temporary things to cloud my view of Your Awesomeness.


Most of my morning prayers have the same starting point: seeking forgiveness and additional grace. Today’s requests are eerily similar to every other day. Each sunrise to sunset is filled with hacking my way through twisted vines of self-absorption to return to the path of obedience to God’s ways. It still surprises me how easily I get off track, the slightest turn plunging me into a ravine of darkness. Yet even from the bottom there is always light above and God’s help is constant. Father, thank You for Your lifting hand, Your love pulls me through the steep climb again and again.


Each heart knows its own bitterness, its own fears and its own solitary path. Likewise, no one else can fully share its deepest joys, its unexplainable peace or its moments of unencumbered victory. In both bad times and good times there are very private moments where we would like to invite others, but they cannot join us; these are times of single space passageway where no others may tread. These are the precious occasions of life when there is only God. Almighty Father, I am never alone or without recourse; You are ever present and without limitations.


Sometimes a lake can be so still everything above is nearly perfectly reflected upon it. This is what God wants of me; I too, must be still and allow Him to be mirrored upon my life. My issue? Ripples. What God sees of Himself in me is too often distorted by every shifting wind. I must not allow passing circumstances to constantly ruffle me. Rather, I must permit His abiding peace to calm my soul so His majesty can be seen. This is my daily battle. Father, in Your peace I have calmed myself and quieted my ambitions; I am content in Your care. Glorify Yourself in me, make me like still waters.


Today I will think ten thousand thoughts. I often over-think problems, mulling over the same details ad nauseam. I do this knowing all along that the answers I seek come from God alone, but, if I can just mull it over once more, ponder, reflect, get advice, ruminate, maybe I can figure it out. Will I never learn? An overcharged mind is no substitute for a heart at peace that is open to God’s voice of wisdom. Blessed Lord Our Maker, Fountain of Wisdom, help me stay in perfect peace as my thoughts are steady upon You. When my mind drifts away, pull me back to Your thoughts, Your ways.


The murky confusion of the black of night is instantly transfigured by the entry of even the smallest light. Many tremble at the onset of darkness in any form, but evil can be confronted without fear and done so bathed in vanquishing love. Demons flee in the presence of the Savior and destitute souls find deliverance, healing and peace. To bow the knee to the Lord of Hosts is to strike a deathblow to the enemies of the God-seeking. Father of Light, limitless dominion belongs to those who know You. You are our Strong Tower, our Refuge and our Deliverer. May Your Resplendent Glory fill me this day.


While passing interests come and go something far greater is at work deep inside the God-seeking heart. The Almighty Himself lays a foundation of desires that please Him and draw us to the purpose for which He created us. As we align our lives to follow His voice, these inward inclinations dissuade us from wrong choices and guide us forward. The Light of God illuminates our path through the unrelenting darkness of this fallen world. Great Shepherd, You have bred Your lambs for the mountaintop; Your Presence liberates Your children’s feet to skip along the heights where others fear to tread.


A heart too tied to this world knows little of the exquisiteness of obedience to Him who rules both heaven and earth. To do the will of God in ways large and small uncaps a wellspring of joy within, releasing a sense of purpose that nothing else can offer. Short-lived happy feelings may accompany bargain-basement choices, but joy eternal fills the hearts of those who know extravagant surrender and who embrace God’s choices. Lord of Unquenchable Glory and Irrepressible Peace, deliver me from earthly sorrow of my own making and align my heart and will to Your own.


The Word of the Lord surrounds us; the universe itself is formed and held in place by God’s declaration. He spoke and there was light. He spoke again and there was mankind. There is no language, no place, no creation and no heart where His voice is not heard. The Word of God is always active, imparting life and power to all; purifies the unclean heart and tearing down the most stubborn stronghold. Praise to You, O Lord my Maker, my Healer, my Deliverer and my Defender! Eternal God and Father, teach me to hear and to promptly obey your decrees. May Your Word flourish in me always.


The daily struggle for the God-seeker is the dueling impulses of the heart. On the one hand I sincerely want only His will, but on the other, I am still too attached to my own. When I lift my hands to the Immortal One, in one is a bowl of thanksgiving and in the other a cup of sin. He could choose only my praise, but instead accepts both, relieving my weary soul of its painful conflict. How wonderful a thought that when I see Him face to face my earthly striving will cease. Glorious God, You are Perfect and Holy, yet You do not turn away in disgust, but receive our polluted offerings and pour Your goodness back upon us.


I was just a child the first time I was coerced to stick my index fingers into a Chinese finger trap. My reaction was to pull my fingers out, but this only tightens the trap. Getting pulled into ungodly conversation is much harder to escape; my lips have trapped me far worse than my fingers ever have. Rumors, accusations and unfair criticisms are dainty morsels
 that easily sink deep into one’s heart; repeating them is a deadly trap. Why do so many people feel it necessary to take someone else apart to feel whole themselves? Father, put coals of fire to my lips. Let kindness rule my ears, heart and mouth.


A stroll down Main Street in Disney’s Magic Kingdom seems convincing enough, but those charming shops and homes above are nothing but an imaginative veneer. Actually, much of what we see in life is propped up with facades and imaginations. We are architects of our own fantasies since we see what we want to see. Then truth comes rolling in like a romping rhino in a china store; reality is a game-changer. Lord of Truth, I have many delicate things balanced on flimsy shelves. You only knock down to build up. You push to the side that which is of no lasting value. While there is pain in the moment, I welcome Your truth.


While driving in unfamiliar surroundings I sometimes follow the crowd, reasoning that the majority must be right. It works out at times, but more often than not it leads to being trapped in in a huge traffic jam along with everyone else. Thoughtlessly copying others is a sure way to lose track of your own distinct path. Each person is divinely crafted to fulfill God’s created purpose for them; we are not designed for mindless following. O Lord Our Provider, keep me from ignoring Your constant provision of guidance. Direct my feet to Your divine will and use me to inspire others.


How often must I be kind? Though past disappointments may still linger, there is no loss in offering authentic kindness to others, even to those who have hurt us. When practiced without ulterior motives, we touch for a moment the glory and nature of God because kindness is one of the principle characteristics of love. Even if it is abused or rejected by those to whom it is offered, kindness benefits the giver inwardly and invites the promised blessing of the Almighty. Father, You are love and You are kind beyond description. Let Your kindness flow through me that I may be closer to You.


Dust and debris, piles of materials, noisy machinery and scurrying workers may seem confusing to the unseasoned observer, but progress requires a certain level of disorder. A home without children is easily kept neat and clean, but a growing family’s domicile can look like a small twister passed through in just a matter of minutes. An empty barn produces nothing. The lesson here is simple; building anything of value is messy. Much of life is spent cleaning up the messes progress requires. Holy Father, Thank you for the opportunities to extend Your Kingdom, I do not resent cleaning the barn.


Choosing the right companions is a primary element of success. While I prefer to be accompanied by those who make me feel better, to accomplish meaningful objectives I must partner with those who challenge me to perform better. In the end, I will stand before God, so care must be taken in today’s choices. To walk with the wise is to be made wiser; a true friend is one who strengthens my spiritual resolve and provokes me to draw me closer to God. Heavenly Father, lead me to relationships that honor You. Thank You for the blessed gift of comrades who put Your will ahead of all else.


I am increasingly aware of how little actual control I have over life’s circumstances. This unfolding revelation is a bit unsettling, but in reality it is good since I do not warrant unmitigated control of my life; my record is littered with the debris of failures where I attempted to be my own final authority. The goodness of God delivers me FROM me. My role should be faithful obedience rather than undertaking the role of commander. Master, I am at peace with surrendering to Your control. Grant me divine purging today that I may more easily yield to your primacy. My life is Yours alone.


The Goodness and Mercy of God requires no preconditions. By the time we need mercy, nothing more can be done to deserve it, but that is why only mercy will do. We who know little of unconditional love, struggle with the very idea that God offers such goodness without stipulations. Goodness and mercy follow after me and every last strand of resistance to God’s ways will succumb to their advance. The goodness of God is continually defeating my unruliness. Most Merciful and Gracious God, You bear no grudges and offer the way of life to the undeserving, do Your holy work in me today.


Criticism, whether fair or not, is an important component of our growth process. Especially when clearly offered with wrong motives, it is a huge motivator for self-examination and making the needed changes it exposes. I do not like to be criticized, but have learned that much of my progress has been propelled by it. A person fully conscious that God works all things to our good may be stung, but never devastated by the disapproval of others. Father, sustain me and transform me by whatever means You choose. I am earnestly thankful for the stripping away of every weakness or flaw.


Traveling with a friend in his new boat a few years ago brought us to unfamiliar waters while using unfamiliar equipment. We panicked when the depth finder suddenly registered very shallow water. Though we were just off shore, we were actually sitting over one of the Atlantic’s deepest ocean troughs and our sounding setting was set too shallow. Where God has taken me in life I have often been out of my depth, so I must continually reset my heart for deeper places. Yesterday’s settings will not suffice for tomorrow’s journey. Captain of my Soul, prepare me now for where You are taking me.


Those who plot evil never seem to run out of schemes to do additional harm. What a travesty when those made in God’s image turn the divine imprint of the Creator into an inexhaustible fountainhead of sorrows for those they hate. Sadly, in the end, they too, will face the very troubles they have caused others as surely as the chickens come home to roost. What is sown is what is reaped. Great and Glorious One, I ask forgiveness for every seed of harm I have spread and crop failure for every bad seed sown. By Your gracious beneficence may I only scatter kernels of life and blessing.


Biblically framed love for God requires obedience; keeping His commandments is not an optional add-on, it is the core component of a life well lived. We obey the one we love the most, so my constant nemesis is selfishness. The more I repudiate egocentrism in every form, the easier obedience to God becomes. Self-loathing offers no relief since it is nothing more than another form of self-centeredness, only moment by moment surrender will do. Lord, I desire Your ways. Though You own me, still I struggle from Your grasp. In Your boundless mercy bind my heart to Your will.


It is possible to lose the battle but win the victory. I have often watched loved ones slip into eternity surrounded by friends, family and medical professionals fighting with all their might. In like manner battles for success in marriages, friendships, businesses, ministries and every other worthy pursuit can end in what appears to be defeat. But for the believer, this is not the end of the story. Holy Father, I am eternally thankful for those divine moments in which loss is swallowed in victory. You truly work everything for our good. You shelter our souls and turn our mourning into joyful dancing.


Emotional excitement often masquerades as spiritual fervor, being dazzled can feel like “being led”. It is a good thing to want to strike out for higher ground, but it is not good to have zeal without discernment and wisdom, nor to be hasty and miss the right way. Too often we wait until after we have set our course and begun the journey to check the roadmap. The Word and Spirit of God must not be used to support our decisions; they must inform, guide, cleanse and direct them from the start. Father, keep me on the path You have chosen. May my heart and mind stay in constant surrender to Your divine management.


Extension of the Kingdom of God in me and through me to others must not be an afterthought; spiritual progress cannot be accomplished with life’s leftovers. In the absence of frontsliding there is only backsliding. Scripture proclaims: “the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.” Every day matters, and how intentionally I approach it will affect its outcome. Lord, help me lay hold of that which You have proclaimed. Rattle my cage until at last I run to You first and always. Provoke me to advance each and every day.


Wisdom and foolishness inhabit the same space. Indiscretion can be found easily, but wisdom must be sought after. The good news is that wisdom, like unseen but constantly present broadcast waves, is always present for the taking. Tuning my heart to hear opens a world of understanding, discretion and clarity; concentration on the right things unveils previously hidden treasures. Blessed Lord, You lift the gloom of confusion and tear away the veil of childish nonsense. Your countenance brings endless illumination to my darkest moments and joy unspeakable to my heart.


The heart that understands the unmerited grace God offers will not fall victim to a superiority complex toward others. If we are still under the delusion that we are blessed because of our moral rectitude or exceptional knowledge, then prideful judgmentalism is assured. Religious arrogance paralyzes spiritual progress and sets us up for a fall. I like to think I left all sanctimonious tendencies far behind, but they still pop up like burned toast. Lord, have mercy on my earthly ways and make me more like You. May my pursuit of piety never produce a holier-than-thou response to others.