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Showing posts from May, 2015

NO CRINGING ALLOWED

God wants to love others through me but I sometimes cringe at His choices. Not that I think I am more worthy of His love than others, it is just so difficult at times. 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, but He will have none of this nonsense. Restricting the love-flow from His heart to my heart to others is a heinous crime. Lord of Love, forgive me for ever holding back Your love from others. Make me an open-valve fountain of blessing.

THE VEIL CLOSED...FOR A MOMENT

Today the veil of separation is formally closed between my mother and me, but it won’t last long. A while ago I was contemplating the death of two longtime friends who died during the same week and it hit me, I now have more people I know and love in heaven than I do on earth. It was in that moment my view of heaven transitioned to a new level. Until that occasion heaven had mostly been a theological reality and a missional goal, but in that time of reflection heaven became an emotional reality. Lord of all Majesty and Power, soon we will see You face to face and there, we Your children, shall ever dwell together with You!

NEVER ALONE

My earthly excursion must be trod on mountaintops and through deep valleys alike; each day brings gains and losses. My goal is to please God, yet it is difficult to take hold of eternal things while constantly immersed in the temporal.  Unruly sin and lingering regret accompany my pilgrimage, but mercy and forgiveness deliver me daily. His Word and Spirit trounce the ravages of carnal intrusions, His Goodness transforming “all things”, even the worst of circumstances, for “our good”. Glory to You Lord! You walk within us, before us, behind us, beneath us, above us and around us. We never walk alone.

BAREFOOT AND CRAZY!

The first time I heard the title of the song: “Barefoot and Crazy” I thought of Moses. A wholly unexpected divine encounter knocked him right out of his sandals and changed him from a shepherd to a prophet and deliverer of millions of slaves from bondage; “barefoot and crazy” for God's will for His people. That’s exactly what I want: divine encounters, the shedding of earthly stuff and backflips off the cliff of the commonplace. Yes, bold and crazy obedience! Lord Almighty, Great “I AM,” I ask for holy encounters that evoke radical surrender. Help me turn aside from ordinary routines to climb the mountain of discovery and empowerment.

DIVINE DOWNLOADS

Constant updates are required for the operating systems and applications we all use. Between my phone, computer and other devices there are multiple downloads each day. This is really nothing new; my whole being requires daily adjustments and updates. I must be sorted through, spirit, soul and body, until every part is pure and wholly consecrated to God. Yesterday’s surrender is insufficient for this new day. Precious Lord, I am thankful for Your constant work in me so that You may work more effectively through me. Divine Downloads are my urgent need and daily desire.

GOD MANAGEMENT

So much of what is sincerely offered as prayer is little more than attempts to align God with what we want or feel we need. Just in case God may have missed something or is simply too busy and needs additional details, we outline the issues as we see them, even offering reasonable solutions for Him to consider. The fundamental problem with this approach is prayer is not God management. Prayer manages us, not the other way around. Gracious Father, align my desires to Your will and my requests to Your purpose. Forgive my attempts to manipulate Your ways. Not my will but Yours, always.

FINISHED

I always take a written list to the grocery store; otherwise I will usually miss a thing or two needed. When I go to the Cross no such list is necessary.  Why are we always trying to add something to the Cross as if its work is insufficient? Did God really forget things to place upon Himself? Redemption is complete; nothing is left untouched. I can trust the Redeemer to apply His work to every need, every sorrow. My part is to surrender everything at the feet of the Savior. Holy God, You declared: “It is finished!” Help the sincerity of my repentance match the greatness of Your Salvation.

EQUILIBRIUM

Years ago, I looked out the window and received quite a surprise. Trunk to the ground, roots pointing skyward, a huge tree had fallen over our driveway. It is unsettling when things so unexpected happen. Soil and water, the very things that nourish a giant oak tree, 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. My spirit, soul and body must be cared for properly. O Lord My Caretaker, guide me into balance and moderation. Keep me from seeking excessive sustenance outside of Your design or provision.

LET'S ROLL

While life can feel pretty mundane at times, by His design 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. Though I am never allowed more than a peek at the blueprints, from time to time I catch a glimpse of what He is doing and am always amazed. Lord, I rejoice to do Your bidding. May my work this day and every day thereafter be synchronized with Yours. Let’s roll.

CALLED ASIDE

While plowing through a mountain of work over the past few days I swerved into several deeply penetrating conversations. These were not pre-planned, nor were they directly related to the task at hand. In each case I was called aside from the daily grind to be helpful to someone I care about, but it was I who was truly helped. Being utilized as a conduit for comfort, wisdom, affirmation and encouragement awakens the grace and wonder of God in us, releasing fresh faith and unearthly joy. LORD, You are so Good! Thank you for placing oases along the trek through dry places. Make me a channel of blessing.

TRANSFORMED

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. Every second brings subtle change; the landscape must be carefully observed as all that can be seen is transfigured. 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 metamorphic approach to every square inch of my soul. Yes, this is good.

UNSTICKY HANDS

The world grows larger and larger to a person with a sincere and generous heart, but shrinks smaller and smaller for those with a stingy, closed heart. What we grip too tightly is compressed to even less, but living with open hands offers unlimited opportunities for God to fill them over and over. It is simple really: “closed hands, closed heart; open hands, open heart.” Nothing pries open the heart like even to smallest dewdrop of God’s amazing Love. O LORD, Giver of All things, bathe my hands in holy oil; may nothing stick to them. Make me a channel of blessing to those in need.

LIP FILTER

We feel compelled to have the last word in conversations, but having the right words is far more important. Life and death proceed from our lips. We have no control over words after they depart our lips so necessary care must be given before we speak. A Biblical and Spirit-informed filter between the mind and the mouth serves everyone’s best interest. Slowing the velocity of my replies to others increases the effectiveness of the filter. Lord, let Your words saturate my thoughts, and transform my words into instruments of life. May only what is bathed in Your love and filled with Your truth leave my lips.

DEATH TO DARTH VADER

When Scripture speaks of "dying to self" it is not referring to the person God uniquely created us to be, it is pointing to the alternate person, the “self” we have created in our own minds. This stand-in person is rooted in human ego. Ego is nothing but a collection of human ideas; it is useless, it is nothing but a false center. Death to "self" in a biblical sense is actually a release of our divinely constructed personhood, created in God's image and made to fulfill His purpose. Father, liberate me from every residue of the deception of ego. LORD, of my self, I can do nothing, yet through You I can do all things.

PROMOTION

Humility is the God-designed pathway to promotion in His Kingdom. Humiliation is a painful substitute, but it can still work if we respond to it correctly. We must turn our faces to the wall and cry out to the Righteous Judge or face the consequences of stubborn arrogance. Pointing to the pride of others to justify our own only increases the length and intensity of the trial. Love can be summed up in one word: “others”. The paradox of faith is that I must diminish so God can work mightily through me. Glorious God and Father, I bow to Your Greatness. Make me an instrument of Your blessing.

WHO I KNOW

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. The key to giving is not “what I have” but “Who I know”, since all that I have, even life itself, is a gift from God. Father, You love, You give, You reign; I want to be more like You. Teach me Your ways and grant me increased measure of Your Spirit of generosity.

GIVE SPACE

Two words came to mind while in prayer: ”give space.” The Presence of God can occupy any size space, but may not be recognizable in the junk pile of an overstuffed life. It is amazing how quickly every bit of storage space in any house, office, car or garage can fill. Frankly, every available space in life seems to fill with unimportant things, how much more so our soul space. Does the Savior find “any room in the Inn?” Lord of Light and Life, You own me through and through. I desire to yield every space to You. In Your loving kindness grant me grace for some inner housecleaning today

MORNING STRETCH

Listening to God’s voice is central to keeping my heart on the right path. I am easily distracted, so there must be daily renewal of commitment to hear and obey. Inward quietness, which can be difficult to come by in such a busy world, is rooted in peace with God. Peace with God begins with acceptance of His Redeeming Love and Blessed Ways rather than our own. Will I trudge through on my own or will I take hold of the horns of the altar? I choose the latter. Father, I rejoice in the hope of entering Your Glory. I stretch my hands to You in joyful praise. Lord, draw me nearer and deeper.

ROAD TRIP

As a young family we would pile our four children into a vehicle to take road trips. What a crazy, fun, maddening, soul stretching affair that was! After days of planning, preparation, packing and one last headcount we were off. I was always surprised how swiftly everything became so chaotic. Spiritual progress is no different. The road to victory is often messy and offers many exit ramps. The trip itself can be very disorienting since success rarely looks like success until after it is achieved. Lord, grant me grace to finish my course smiling. Help me enjoy the scenery along the detour and be patient with the pace.

AUTHORIZED INTERRUPTION

Another day is at hand. Family, work, sick friends, urgent needs, the future, world news, weather, past mistakes, dirty car; my mind is already racing. The human soul can be more crowded than the Los Angeles freeway. King David found it necessary to command his own soul to “Bless the Lord.” Seeking God first thing in the morning and listening to His voice throughout the day lifts the anxiety of constant pressures and sets my heart on the right path. Father, infiltrate my every thought today. You Lord, are the authorized interruption in every moment. May Your Presence percolate through me.

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES

Life is jam-packed with opportunities to grow. There is so much to be learned, yet, seeking understanding is useless if we are never able to acknowledge truth. God alone reveals truth; a life devoid of it has no enduring boundaries. Truth requires no second opinions, considerations of alternatives or modifications. Once acknowledged, I must embrace truth, put it into practice and be transformed by it or suffer the consequences of ignoring it. Lord God, You alone are the Fountain of Truth. Grant to me this day a willingness to learn. I confess my ignorance and joyfully await Your divine instruction.

GOD OF WONDERS

How curious it is to attempt to judge the acts of God with mortal minds. His being is immeasurable, His image beyond sight. Words are wholly insufficient to describe His uncontainable power or the riches of His glory. His unbounded wisdom, unflagging love and ceaseless goodness tower above all human capacity to grasp. Lord, I have no questions worthy of Your answers; it is enough to bow in humble adoration and proclaim how great You are; Creator of All Things, the Seer of the Unseen, Healer of the Deepest Wounds, Defender of the Helpless and the Guardian of the Unguarded, to You be the glory now and forever.

FLOOD MY HEART

The Word of God not only repairs what is broken within us, when “written on the tablet of the heart” it protects us from future catastrophes. Daily intake of Scripture not only informs us, it transforms us. I am not capable of honest self-evaluation without standing in the lighted mirror of the Word illuminated by the Holy Spirit. Like nitro glycerin, even in small amounts, Scripture applied deep within can unearth even the most solid resistance. Blessed Lord, flood my heart with Your Power as I drink deeply from the Well of Life. Your Promises are my counselors, protectors and refuge.

MAJESTY REVEALED

In popular styles of art such as abstract expressionism or cubism, the imperfect, the incomplete and the vaguely suggested are central to their beauty. In real life we generally like things to be more definitive, more concrete. Yet, there too we find subtle beauty; the quiet touch on the arm of a loved one, the evoking questions of a friend who knows us well, the smile of a stranger. In like manner, God is manifest in so many different expressions. The beauty of His Majesty is revealed in ways both obvious to all and hidden to the less discerning. God of Wonders, I stand in awe of You. Open my eyes and heart to know you better.

LIMITLESS GOOD

The end of our known resources is the starting line for miracles. Until our energy is fully exhausted there is no second wind. Only when we are firmly trapped do we do whatever is necessary for freedom. To the hungry soul everything is sweet. These are but a few reminders that at the borderline of human-centered effort there is God. He is never without resource, never exhausted, always liberating, full of provision. When I consider the greatness of His power it begs the question: why do I ever attempt to go it alone? O Lord of Limitless Good, the one who trusts in You will never be put to shame.

WEIGH MY HEART

God cannot be fooled. It seems ridiculous to say it, but I have tried; self-justification is such a part of the human condition that we are blind to its techniques. Strangely, we can see it in others with pinpoint accuracy, yet struggle to see it in ourselves. As Scripture declares: “all a man's own ways seem right to him”. Feigned piety is no help since it too is nothing more than another form of self-generated fraud. The triple-punch of Scripture, Spirit and covenant fellowship with serious and believers can purge us of self-deception.  Lord, weigh my heart. Shine Your Light throughout my soul.

CROSSROADS

I come to crossroads of decision daily. Wisdom is always there like a friendly farmer at a roadside produce stand; easily seen if you look, lots of fruit simply waiting to be chosen and the counsel of the one who personally nurtured it from seed to table.  I want to stop and browse, but with so much to do I drive forward in a rush. Life’s choices require God’s input. Substituting my own judgment for that of the Lord of Ages is foolhardy. Father of All Wisdom, forgive my impertinent haste. Help me to take the time to seek Your Face and choose wisely. Thank You for Your unmatched wisdom offered freely to those who seek it.

PEACE IN THE SCRUM

Life often seems like a rugby scrum. While I know full well that God is always present and all His ways are loving and faithful, still, at times it feels as if I’m dwelling in a trash compacter. Each time I am tempted to complain I must remember that there is a much more powerful option; I can glorify God in my distress. I can shout for joy, giving grateful praise to Him who is ever faithful. I can put on a garment of praise and anoint my head with the oil of joy. Glorious Father, You are my Keeper; Your presence sustains me in the midst of chaos. I lift my eyes to You, my Fortress, my Deliverer, my Peace.

HANDRAILS

I have stumbled on stairs plenty of times over a lifetime. Finally, I discovered the value of handrails. It’s not that I had never been instructed, I just thought they were for others, not me. I still forget sometimes but it only takes the slightest slip to send me reaching for safety. Actually, my whole life requires stabilizing support and safety boundaries. God, in His Immense Goodness, provides handrails of discipline, work, family, friends, commandments and His ever-present Spirit to keep me safe from my own foolhardy ways. Father of All Mercies, I welcome Your constant stabilizing Presence.