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Showing posts from September, 2014

INSTINCTIVE CREATIVITY

I have often marveled at the instinctive creativity of a small child. A stick in the hand is easily reimagined into a ship hurtling through space, a simple flower into a royal wedding bouquet. The effect of sin is to turn this wonderful creativity stamped upon our soul by the Creator Himself into craftiness. As pride and selfishness grows creativity is used to devise ingenious ways of deceit and wrongdoing. The only corrective for this is to return our creativity to its original purpose, to use it for good. Holy Father, may Your Divine Nature turn my instinctive ingenuity into creative ways to spread Your love to others.

INTERDEPENDENT BY DESIGN

I am by temperament an independent person, but a lifetime of experience instructs me that I need all the help I can get. There is no shame in interdependence. God specifically designed each of us with strengths that others need and conversely, weaknesses that invite the strength of others. In this divine construct the hand cannot say to the foot “I don’t need you”. Father, thank You for blueprinting a life that leads to giving and receiving. Keep me on the lookout for needs that I can meet and grant me the humility to receive the comfort, corrective advice, aid and sustenance I need.

CALLOUSNESS

The hardening of the heart is a slow process. It may begin as a particularly prized opinion or commitment to a specific course of action. Disappointments can stiffen the heart and procrastination is a path to callousness. We harden our hearts by rebellion against needed disciplines, through bitterness over circumstances or by unbridled selfishness. As the hardening continues excuses are made, all contrary opinions are cast aside and no authority is trusted. In the end it becomes resistance to truth itself. Father, grant me a pliable heart. May nothing I think or do be held so dear that truth may no longer penetrate.

THE DEADLY EVIL OF ENVY

Oddly, we admire the success of someone we don’t know, but envy the success of someone we do. Like mildew in a dark, wet place, malice grows quickly in the heart that harbors jealousy, emptying the soul of joy, peace and purpose. From there it is a slippery slope from witty criticisms to skillful, malicious rumormongering and malignant dismembering of the reputations of others. To covet someone else’s life is disavowal of God’s care and intent for our own. O Lord, My Healer, eradicate from my soul all envy, jealousy and malice. May thankfulness and joy cleanse every thought and word.

SIGN OF REMEMBRANCE

The Sun is a daily reminder of amazing power; its benefits offered freely to all. Clouds obscure its presence, earth’s daily rotation makes it seem to come and go and the moon may even occasionally shadow it for a short while, but in fact, it is always there. Its power is never diminished and its presence never withdrawn. God, in His consummate Wisdom created something necessary for life and made it equally a sign of remembrance of His unmitigated Power and Presence. Wondrous God and Father, again I fall to my knees, face to the ground. You are Perfectly Glorious in all Your ways.

JAILBREAK

Unforgiveness doesn’t simply lay dormant in our soul. It actively acquires additional space, builds walls and locks away our capacity to openly love. Why do we choose to remain tortured in a prison of indignation when we can run free? We each have a right to resentment since no one can take it away without our permission. Therefore, I may stew in a self-generated caldron of bitterness as long as I like or I can cancel the debt. Forgiveness is not a feeling; it is a conscious decision that I can make at any moment. Lord, You forgave us me of so much, help me release the power of pardon to others.

JARS OF CLAY

A trip to the mall affirms a common truism: the more expensive the packaging, the greater the value of what it contains. However, when it comes to the person in whom God dwells the absolute opposite is true. The Bible describes the knowledge of God’s glory within us as “treasure in jars of clay”. I am often surprised at the packages through whom God works. The lesson here is simple, I dare not miss the treasure because of my reaction to an inferior package, nor should I doubt the value of Christ in me. Father, though I am unworthy of Your indwelling, You are nonetheless present. May the tearing away of my weaknesses reveal Your Glory.

QUIET PLEASE

My times of prayer are mostly done in quiet solitude, but internal impulses often make my meditations feel like rush hour on the Los Angeles Freeway. Random thoughts, daily concerns, carping accusations from the evil one and incessant problem solving noisily crowd into holy space carved out for God alone. Like highway road signs for the lost traveler, the Holy One hangs patiently overhead, quietly instructing and directing me to the intended destination. Glorious God, only You can quiet my soul. Silence my thoughts and calm my inner storm. You are my peace; I await Your voice.

SEEING THE UNSEEABLE

Technology continues to improve mankind’s ability to see the unseeable. We can fly in clouds, study tiny particles and peer deep into space. However, having an idea of what is ahead only modestly improves our chances of making right choices. Improved abilities to see are ultimately useless without God’s wisdom. A prudent person foresees both dangers and opportunities but may not know what is best. Thankfully, faith and trust are not blind ignorance; they come with divine help from the ALL Seeing, ALL Knowing One. Lord I safely advance in Your Loving Care and Unlimited Wisdom.

BLUE SKIES

Irvin Berlin taught America to sing; “God Bless America” is practically a second National Anthem. One of my favorite Berlin songs cheerily declares: “Blue skies, Smiling at me, Nothing but blue skies, Do I see.” Many of my travels have begun in nasty weather at ground level, yet I have learned that if you climb high enough the sky is always blue. The same is true for the soul. Living in the squalor of human deficiencies can make us feel there is nothing more. Not true. As I move higher I begin to see from heaven’s perspective. Lord, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.

HONESTY

Human honesty is typically poorly timed and clumsily delivered. The reason is simple; the underlying motivation to "be honest" is most often grounded in selfishness rather than divine love. God speaks truth with the purest of motives while we do not. We mostly speak up when we are in fear of losing something or being harmed. Honesty in this case is no more than our intent to control our surroundings. God speaks truth as an act of love, granting the hearer the chance to know the perfect way forward. Father, You are Love and Truth, teach me Your ways. Put Your coals of fire to my lips.

WHILE I WAS SLEEPING

Spiritual immaturity seems to have no bounds, like a creaking door it just hangs around making itself heard. I was awakened today from the depths of sleep while still dreaming. In my dream I was silently being critical and judgmental of someone. Even in slumber unkind complaints vex my soul. May the devious snares of Darkness be undone and his instruments of evil be snatched away; the stumbling blocks of self-centered belligerence removed. Lord, my need for Your saving grace is constant. I awake yearning for the gentleness and maturing power of Your Fatherly love.

SUPREME LOVE

Those who know little of the supremacy of God's love live in a persistent state of worry and doubt. Fear siphons away life, bleeding out joy and peace until there is none left. Fear is a thief, a murderer and a destroyer. God's love is constant whether we feel it or not. It never stops purifying, constraining, motivating, healing, forgiving, freeing; God’s perfect love drives away all fear and the roots in which it is embedded. Lord, You are love and I may only know You by love. Enlarge my capacity to receive the purity and power of Your love and use me to offer freely it to others.

EMPTY PURSUITS

Watching a dog chase his tail is comical. If he catches it will he be happy with his prize or will he regret the pursuit? We spend a lot of time considering what we want and how we will attain it. Unfortunately, we make little effort to understand why we want it in the first place. Too often, after obtaining long-sought goals, our pursuits leave us exhausted and disappointed. Discerning the “why” before the start of the chase can deliver us from the wrong quest. Lord, help me truthfully discern my desires. Cleanse me of mixed motives and keep me from running headlong down empty trails.

RESCUED

I once almost drowned as a young child. On what would surely have been my last plunge beneath the surface my brother grabbed me and pulled me to ground I could stand on. It was not an easy rescue. Out of intense panic I struggled against my rescuer. I sometimes still do. Our own foolishness is most often the source of our disasters, yet at the moment of salvation we make our rescue even more of an ordeal than it should be. O Lord My Rescuer, I know you hear my cry long before I feel Your hand. Help me to not question Your timing or ways. Deliver me from foolhardy behaviors.

OPEN WATERS

Casting off into a strong tide is fraught with perils. Though open waters beckon, the security of being tied to the dock is compelling. Forward progress always includes the risk of letting something go. Everything in life, including life on earth itself, will eventually be swallowed into eternity. Looking ahead to what God is unfolding helps to ease the pain of current losses. Recognition of the goodness and wisdom of God grants peace in the process. Lord, keep me from getting uncorked when things change. I know that You work it all out for good. Cut me free from fears of loss that I may embrace Your very best.

SWEET SPOT

My heart is far too easily pulled into the gravity field of worldly distractions and daily responsibilities. The pressures of living for eternity while constantly tethered to earthly activity can empty the soul of the kind of passionate following that God deserves. As a new dawn approaches my challenge is to faithfully fulfill my earthly duties without ignoring celestial directives. Almighty Lord, only a heart that lingers before You will find the right balance. In Your mercy, guide my steps this day. Help me find that perfectly positioned sweet spot of feet on the ground and heaven on the mind.

RIDING THERMALS

While missionaries in Quito, Ecuador we lived within eyesight of a world-renowned location for Hang Gliding. We watched flyers riding rising warm air as it ascended up the steep cliffs. No power is required; the thermals provide the needed lift to skilled pilots. My daily walk with God is no different, the key being to trust His lifting power. Over time, skills are developed and improved to avoid dead air and steer only toward what lifts. Father, You are High and Lifted Up, transport me to the heights. Teach me to rely on Your provided power and to skillfully navigate the opportunities you bring.

UNINFLUENCEABLE

Even when we are sincere, human love runs shallow. Firmly lodged boulders of selfishness lie just beneath the surface, regularly protruding through. So how does my love stack up to the great affection of God? He does not HAVE love as if were a passing sniffle, God IS love. Human love is mostly rooted in attraction, feelings and conditions. God’s wondrous love is His Very Being and is uninfluenceable. My reaction to Him does not make Him love me less nor love me more. Holy Redeemer, while not a stranger, I still know so little of Your love. Teach me to love You and others as You do.

FROM THE PIT TO THE PALACE

Joseph was loved by his father but hated by his jealous brothers; they resented his blessings and especially despised the dreams God had given him. It still happens. Joseph showed us a more excellent way when he forgave those who had tried to destroy him. It is painful to be unjustly vilified, but the pit where we are thrown becomes a place of purification and discovery. Sometimes the pit is the most important stop along the journey to fulfilling the dream. Heavenly Father, I will not permit today’s disappointments to kill the dreams You give. I am headed from the pit to the palace.

THIN ICE

The call of God on my life has always exceeded my known resources, proven capabilities and personal character. I have come to understand this is the way it must be; otherwise, I would foolishly lean too heavily upon myself. It is the daily walk on thin ice that keeps me alert and dependent upon divine intervention. My weakness invites God’s grace. So I begin another day shrouded in frailty but anticipating a new measure of grace and victory. O Lord my God and Father, You are not put off by my shortcomings. When I am weak You are strong. Blessed Master, use me this day for Your glory.

MIRACLES

Even a casual peek through the biblical window into the Heavenly City reveals a miraculous place. Things considered so precious here on earth will be no more than pavement and building material in the New Jerusalem. Resplendent with the Light of Our Savior, a Sea of Glass, a heavenly host beyond number; is it any wonder that God sends miracles into this world to proclaim the nature of the world to come. Lord God of Beauty and Power beyond description, I welcome Your marvels and mighty works in this world that announce a miraculous eternity in the next. Come quickly Lord.

INFORMATION CONSTERNATION

The “Information Age” has become the “Age of Confusion”. Misconceptions spread so rapidly that they go unchallenged while new ones continually pile on. In a world jam packed with half-truths, deception, exaggeration and pretense the soul grows weary from the daily stampede. A sound, biblically informed internal compass combined with spiritual guidance and trustworthy comrades help me navigate the constant onrush of external illusion. Father, thank You that while huddled in the storm, I rest safely in Your hand where truth prevails, love lifts and sinking sand turns to Solid Rock.

DIVINE DISREGARD

I should be grateful whenever I see spiritual progress in others or me, but sadly, this is not always the case. I sometimes do not like the method by which betterment comes; the process just doesn’t fit my plan. Life has no fast forward option, we must fully trust in God as things unfold. Like slowly removing a bandage, the lethargic pace of circumstances can be very painful. Thankfully, God ignores my opinion in these situations. “Divine Disregard”; I often need it and God’s goodness provides it. Lord, thank You for taking little notice of my commonly contaminated opinions. Your way, that’s it!

DAYBREAK

The light of early dawn reminds me of my spiritual condition in this world. There is a noticeable but slow change emerging; darkness is slipping away as light is gently rising. I am no longer in darkness, nor am I fully in the light, yet it is clear, light will win. I gratefully welcome the daybreak manifesting within my soul, but I desire to speed this process. Stepping clear of all that shadows accelerates the brightening. Lord God, Light of the World, chase away all gloominess of dark with Your resplendent Presence. Rip down the curtains of doubt and self-will within me that obscure Your blazing Glory.

EVERLASTING ARMS

Having an infant nestled in your arms provides a cornucopia of delightful experiences. The first time a swaddled babe actually recognizes your face and reaches for it brings unique pleasure and when a small child settles down and falls asleep on your chest it grants peace and value to the soul. To make a little one smile or laugh releases joy all around. It may seem strange, but God seeks these things from each of us. He is not only our Creator; He is our Father. Blessed Lord, You made me and hold me in Your loving embrace. Teach me to love You with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.

BETRAYAL

Judas resented Jesus receiving the gift of perfume on his feet and later sold Him out for thirty pieces of silver. We attempt to put distance between Judas’ betrayal and our own distrust of God’s choices, but betrayal always lurks in the heart of the person who does not have the trust issue dealt with. Either God is Good and Trustworthy or not; we cannot pick and choose which of His ways we will accept. An absence of thankfulness always precedes the betrayal of accusing God of not caring for our needs. Great Shepherd and Father, though I cannot always understand Your choices I am at rest in your tender care. Lord, You are Good.

CARELESSNESS KILLS

A wise person passionately seeks to be wiser still, always searching to improve discernment, fairness and guidance. Road signs can only help those who read them and make necessary adjustments to the messages they carry. God places warnings, instructions and navigational help in our daily walk, not to restrict us from success, but to defeat our earthly tendencies toward lawlessness. Carelessness kills; obedience offers life and safety. Holy Father, may Your unrestricted Wisdom defeat my moments of irresponsible insensitivity to Your Guidance. Lord, make me a wise man.