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Showing posts from March, 2016

OCEANS OF BLESSINGS

Looking at the ocean is full of life lessons, so I will offer just a few. What you see on the surface tells very little of its true volume and hidden abundance. While significant activity can be seen on top, the real action is only discovered by going deeper. There is always much more over the horizon headed your way. Every wave deposits treasures on the shore but effort must be made to find them. Eternal God and Maker of All things, You made the seas as but a token of Your Wonder. You are the Well that Never Runs Dry, the Dawn that Never Dims and the depths of Your Love may never be exhausted.

THE REAL DEAL

It is difficult to believe a society has ever been as pretentious as our own; living by pretense is no life at all. God created mankind to bear His image, not exist in a culture of exaggeration, falsehood and fakery. Thankfully, the raw, straightforward simplicity of the Gospel begins ripping away pretentiousness upon arrival. Christ’s example of love, humility, obedience, truth and power awakens virtue and makes a clean sweep of all fraud. Lord God Almighty, shine Your blazing Light of Truth in me today. Illuminate the darkest corners of my soul with Your brightness and tear down every veneer.

SO LOVED

I feel sad for the child of God who knows so little of God’s love all they see is their own concerns. The biblical narrative “God so loved the world” is on my mind. “So loved.” These words prick my heart ten thousand ways. Even one drop of God’s pure love upon the heart changes everything; reordering priorities, provoking a sense of purpose and opening our eyes to the needs around us. Once love enters it comes with such conviction it releases effusive joy and faith to act. Blessed Father, God of Glory, Your Love demands so much, yet offers far more than we could ever need or desire. Lord, make me a channel of Your love.

ENDURING MERCIES

The forgiveness of God is undiminished by my constant downfalls; He is forbearing and compassionate beyond description. I am duty bound to obey His will, but more importantly, I want to do so. I delight to do His will, being inspired to try harder by His Enduring Mercies. His Unrelenting Goodness overcomes my unruliness and my wildest pursuits are lassoed and bound by His Inexhaustible Love. Oh sweet Lord, though I owe You my all, You never demand what I cannot pay. Though at times I serve clumsily, You patiently provide for my daily needs and disciplines, all the while treating me as a beloved son.

HE IS RISEN!!!

Broken Hearts, Morning Mist, Rolled Stone, Empty Tomb, Folded Napkin, Discarded Linen, Seated Angels, Bewildered Women, Racing Apostles, Descended Champion, Defeated Enemy, Recovered Keys, Ascended Victor, Resurrected Savior, Redeemed World, Unrestrainable Rejoicing, Redeeming Pardon, Healed Bodies, Broken Curses, Great Commission, Eternal Life. He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!!! Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!! Happy Resurrection Day to all!!!

A STONE IN MY SHOE

I picked up a small stone in my shoe while walking. It was so tiny I could hardly see it, but could go no farther until it was removed. Little things are often our demise; as King Solomon pointed out: “The little foxes that spoil the vines”. For God, everything is small in comparison to Himself, yet He scrutinizes even the tiniest details. There is a lesson here: It is harmful to ignore lingering issues that need attention. Once I get into a rhythm I don’t like to stop, but minimizing things can lead to much bigger disasters. Father, nothing is hidden from Your eyes, help me to recognize hidden, debilitating issues. Sit me down at Your feet that I may learn to walk in full freedom.

SINGLE SPACE PASSAGEWAY

Each heart knows its own bitterness, its own fears, its own self-doubts and its own solitary path; though others may wish it, no one else can enter this private space. Likewise, no one else can fully share our soul’s deepest joys, its inexplicable peace or its moments of irrepressible victory. In both bad times and good times there are very private moments where we yearn 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, O LORD, are the ever-present Shepherd of My Soul.

SECULAR OR SPIRITUAL?

Ordinary daily actions should be viewed as worship of God as much as the sacrifice of the altar or the work of the high priest when he went within the veil. God calls us to do whatever we do in faith and obedience to Him. Even the most routine, mundane things of life become holy when done “unto Him.” There is no secular versus spiritual for the true believer; there is only surrendered obedience and faithful stewardship. Lord, you carefully formed me and placed me in this world. Keep me in a right frame of mind as I live before You. Do not let me swerve into false a dichotomy. Father, there is only You.

GARBAGE IN, GARBAGE OUT

I cannot permit my heart to have open borders since free ranging exposes it to too many perils. An unguarded heart will consume unhealthy nourishment and stray into mortal danger. It is simple: garbage in garbage out, treasure in treasure out. Like the physical body, my inward man must be nourished, protected and cultivated for it to stay healthy. My heart must be guarded since everything I do outwardly flows from the abundance of what is within. Shepherd of my Soul, help me dwell under Your shadow, keep me safely near. Only under Your guardianship may I truly run free.

SKINNY MIRRORS

I saw a news report describing how “skinny mirrors” are specifically designed to make you look thinner, and are being utilized in changing rooms of many retailers. Have we become so enamored with imagery that we would spend money to intentionally lie to ourselves? Yes we would, and I must confess, I definitely prefer mirrors that make me look better. However, lying to myself has no benefits; self-deception is toxic and dangerous. Lord Almighty, in You there is no falsehood, deliver me from foolish games. May Your Blazing Truth and Unending Mercy cleanse my heart of every deception.

SMOLDERING LETDOWNS

Life is replete with letdowns; some are truly consequential but most are petty. The problem is that small disappointments clump together, and if left smoldering, eventually mushroom into something truly ominous. Festering letdowns, if not dealt with, will turn into discouragement, with depression soon to follow. Learning to cast our disappointments into the Sea of God’s Love is vital to emotional, mental and spiritual advance. Father, thank for Your Unfailing Love which is my deliverance from daily letdowns. Fill my heart with Your Joy and teach me to console others with the same care I have received.

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.

BEYOND THE HORIZON

I like to be busy, but is it not equally important to be ready? Busyness can be the enemy of effectiveness. While it is required that I obediently do what I know to do now, I must simultaneously learn to wait, to be ready for what is coming. Since there is always more happening than I can perceive with my mind I must practice spiritual discernment. Like everything else in life, constant usage sharpens spiritual giftings. Dearest Alpha and Omega, what is yet unseen to me is held firmly in Your hand. Help me be faithful to what I now know while remaining clear sighted and ready for what is just beyond the horizon.

DIVINE IMPULSE

Every good thing done by mankind is preceded by divine impulse; God is its origin. No pride may be taken in a single righteous act since it can only be done under His guidance and grace. I am still amazed at how easily I slip into pretentious vainglory when sharing my victories with others. Even while acknowledging God, somehow I still try to find a way to take at least some credit. It is no wonder that I, as did the apostle Paul, must die daily; every vestige of self-exaltation must be nailed to the Tree of Life. Righteous Lord, annihilate my arrogance by the Cross, that I may humbly do good and rightly give You all glory.

LOVE FILTER

Expressing feelings and opinions is easy for me, but speaking without necessary restraint is never a good thing. Frankly, I have both wounded and healed with my words. Though I genuinely attempt to use care in what I say, far too often, the wrong things slip through. The phrase “I really shouldn’t say” followed by saying it anyway is a fools game; eloquent speech, guided by wisdom, should be the constant way of the child of God. To withhold wisdom can rob someone of a blessing, but to say anything that comes to mind is never the right path. Father, purify my lips, help me speak only what is filtered through love.

A DANGEROUS BREW

Growing up in Florida did not prepare me for ice-covered ground. On my first winter trip to the mountains I was filled with thirteen-year-old hubris. As I was again being warned of its slippery danger, I walked onto the ice. At the exact moment I smilingly said “no problem” both of my feet lost footing and I fell flat on my back. Ignorance, arrogance and stubbornness are a very dangerous brew indeed. Lord, You are my Faithful Instructor. Overconfidence and bullheadedness still remain in my soul; purge from me all indifference to Your voice and keep me safely within the boundaries of Your counsel.

THE ROADSIDE STAND

There is nothing fancy about a roadside fruit stand, its treasures there for the taking. But its bounty will never belong to those whose rush by without pause. So it is with wisdom. On the hilltop, along the road, at the crossroads, she takes her stand crying out to all who will hear. Daily wisdom is not a luxury; it is absolutely essential. Each morning my mind is still half-filled with yesterday’s leftovers with more pouring in upon awakening. It is then I must brake hard and seek God’s voice. Father, teach me to watch and listen. I seek Your Face and hungrily await Your divine instruction. 

NOISY BIRD

An exceptionally noisy goose has been dropping by each morning, broadcasting a cacophony of honks, cackles and wails to all within range. My reaction varies. I have admired him, reviled him, envied him, ignored him, shooed him, but never once understood him. It is obvious this does not matter to him at all. I suppose he expects me to figure it out on my own. So I began to wonder; how often do I come across this way to others? Lord, help me to never be a noisy bird. Let Your message of love, truth, joy and hope broadcast through me with clarity and sensitivity to the hearers.

BY WHATEVER MEANS

The Osprey, a hawk as big and beautiful as an eagle hovers, swoops to just above the surface and delicately plucks a fish from below with his talons, then gracefully flies away. The pelican, an even larger bird, pauses and drops headfirst like a rock; coming in full speed and mouth open as it hits the water. Afterward, sitting on the surface like a dazed boxer on the canvas, he spits out water and swallows the fish. Both the osprey and the pelican feast at the same table, one with graceful poise and the other with seemingly clumsy grit. Lord, thank You for my daily bread by whatever means You provide. I am genuinely grateful for Your constant care.

THE SECOND PLAGUE

For many years our family lived on land that that could be described as recovered swampland. Once, after days of torrential rains, our yard literally looked like the second plague of Egypt; the ground was covered with thousands of tiny frogs joyfully hopping around. They were comical, even cute for a while, but soon they were a horde of bumpy, bulging toads belching noise and a constant problem in ways we had not predicted. Sin is like this; whimsical and welcomed at first, until it multiplies and boisterously dominates our entire lives. Redeemer of My Soul, forgive my tolerance for seemingly insignificant sins and deliver me from the gathering plague of brazen wrongdoing.

DIALED IN

The key to clarity of sight through a set of binoculars is proper focus. We must not only look in in the right direction, but also learn the intricacies of dialing in; orienting our hope is no different. To turn to God is the beginning of hope, but we must dial in to the Word of God to maintain clarity. Scriptures give us focused hope and encouragement as we wait for God’s promises to be fulfilled. Placing hope in anything but the LORD Almighty is a recipe for disaster; no mortal substitute will do. Lord of Hope, forgive my wandering eyes. You alone are my sure foundation and constant salvation. My heart is safely in Your hands.

INHERITANCE

As the firstborn son of Isaac, Esau had the inheritance and authority of his father. But he showed contempt for his birthright when he traded it away for a bowl of soup.  How foolish. Yet, I too, show contempt for my Heavenly Father each time I shrug off my rights as a child of God for temporary things. Over-attachment to momentary needs or desires can plunder my spiritual inheritance and corrupt my sense of purpose and destiny. Blessed Lord, You are my Strength and my Portion. Forgive my inclinations to trade-off heavenly heritage for makeshift satisfaction. Preserve my heart for You Alone.

BEYOND THE VEIL

The ways and works of God are unexaminable. In my finite human condition I simply do not have the capacity to genuinely grasp the infinite nor pass judgment on the acts of the Eternal One. I am, nevertheless, among the eternally blessed knowing a few biblically revealed things: God is Good, He is my Healer, Liberator, Provider, Redeemer and Strength. Therefore, while acknowledging my earthbound limitations, I may now reckon upon that which is not of this world. Great and Mighty Father, I fall happily into your arms, knowing Your Spirit empowers me to live beyond the veil.

GRACE FOR THE KILN

On my very first trip into the USSR many years ago I was surprised to find a bright little store in an otherwise drab and grey town. We were guided to a back-alley by a taxi driver who behaved as if he were revealing a State secret. The small shop had beautiful porcelain pottery. I bought several pieces and carefully packed them for my trip home. Upon arrival I opened my suitcase and found all but one piece broken; they had not been sufficiently heated in the kiln. I do not like going through the furnace of trials life can bring, yet it is the fire that strengthens me for what is next. Father, You are the Potter, I am the clay. Grant me grace for the kiln that I may have fortitude for the journey.

INWARDLY FIT

As I have aged, I have increasingly awakened with nagging aches; nothing serious, just uncomfortable tenderness here and there. But, there is good news, regular stretching and exercise keeps it manageable. The same is true of the soul and spirit; while addressing the needs of the outward man, I cannot ignore development of the inward man. My mind, emotions and spirit must be fed and exercised daily as well; to allow my inner man to lounge around is to expose it to spiritual, mental and emotional ailments. Lord of All, feed my heart with Your Word and Presence. Help me stay inwardly fit.

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.

THUNDER RIVER

One of the world’s great rivers is the Zambezi, famously referred to as "Thunder River". The Zambezi begins as nothing more than rain runoff, then grows and flows for over 2200 miles, passing through six nations on its way to the Indian Ocean. One of its many features is Victoria Falls, the largest waterfall in the world. Many of the wonderful, powerful things God does in our lives begin as a mere trickle as well. The Scriptures advise us: “Do not despise the day of small beginnings”.  The River of God within us most often begins as a mere trickle, but will eventually carve into every area of our lives. Lord of All Creation. Pour out Your Presence in me. Make me a thundering witness of Your Glory and Power! May the wellspring of Your Presence pour from my life into the surrounding sea of humanity.

WISE GUY

Wisdom is not merely a result of good calculations based on cumulative experiences; it is a gift from the Almighty. In other words, we may indeed make better decisions based upon understanding developed over a lifetime, but wisdom is not limited to our knowledge and understanding. Wisdom has a divine element within it and can be given to a child or withheld from an elder. No matter our age, wisdom is vital and thankfully, readily available to those who seek it. Holy Father, You are the fountainhead of all wisdom. Forgive my failed attempts to guide myself. In Your tender Mercy, grant me the gift of wisdom as I face this new day.

ALMOST PERFECT

The apostle Peter was so taken by what was happening on the Mountain of Transfiguration he was willing to forget everything else and just camp there. Almost perfect moments come along from time to time.  While pursuing perfection is a laudable quest, it is never a full reality in this life. Absolute perfection in this fallen world awaits the eternal manifestation of the Perfect One. We pursue it, admire it and occasionally get a glimpse of it, only to eventually realize the truth; God is perfect in all His ways, but nothing or no one else is. Oh Lord, my Perfect Redeemer, though I am but a wandering exile from true perfection, you confront my shortcomings with mercy. I await the day of perfection when we see You and are like You.

FULL SURRENDER

So many things in life are dependent upon others, but I need no one else’s permission to do what is right. Well-meaning people will often attempt to guide us away from sacrificial faith, bold steps of surrender or the embrace of lofty ideals. The concern for our potential failure leads others to recommend compromised behaviors with calls for normality. I think not. My goal is the rarified air of the heights of full consecration. High and Lofty One, though I am earthborn, because of Your great grace and help, I am not earthbound. Prepare me for Your Presence and guide me along the path of full surrender.

PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS

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 in others 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.