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Showing posts from February, 2017

WATER WALKERS

One of my spiritual fathers was Russell Linenkhol. He is now in heaven but his voice is still in my heart. His eyes sparkled when he smiled, had a great wit and a deep-voiced southern drawl. He gave me wise counsel over a lifetime and deeply influenced me in more ways than I could elucidate in this medium. One of his most endearing attributes was something we described as “Russellisms”, which were pithy points of wisdom and insight. For instance, he described people who stepped out in faith as “Water Walkers”, the biblical story clearly referenced. I needed those enlightening and inspiring words. I still do. Lord God, thank You for placing my feet where only You can hold me up. I will follow Your voice no matter the perils. And thanks for Russell.

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, a quarter becomes a million dollars, and so it goes on and on. The effect of sin is to turn this wonderful creativity stamped upon our soul by the Creator Himself into craftiness for doing wrong. As pride and selfishness grow, creativity is repurposed and 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 instead of evil. Holy Father, may Your Divine Nature turn my instinctive ingenuity into creative ways to spread Your love to others.

INEXHAUSTIBLE MEANS

Every earthly resource is exhaustible. Trusting in whatever we have gathered for the future is as useless as when the Israelites tried to store away manna only to have it "breed worms and stink". Life deals blows that shake our hope, but allowing pain or fear to shape our behaviors is the wrong course of action. My earth-born inclinations are dispatched by the glorious victory wrought in knowing God’s limitless provision. When “The Lord Our Provider” wants to act, He has inexhaustible means and power. Blessed Father, You are Lord of All. Forgive my foolish attempts to live in my own strength. Teach me Your ways and lead me in the way of everlasting.

THE NEXT BLESSING

For many years we had a bottlebrush tree that hummingbirds visited regularly. It remained green throughout the year and bloomed all summer, wildlife was drawn to it like a magnet. We rarely saw the speedy hummingbirds come or go since they fly rather quickly, but there were always a few, delicately hovering like helicopters, extracting its sweet nectar. God’s blessings are the same; whether I see them coming or not, they are surely on the way. The next blessing may be as close as my next thought, prayer or act of kindness or obedience. My Lord, my God, I’m continually amazed by You; Your ways are mysterious yet faithfully predictable. Help me to stay alert to Your works and make me a blessing to others.

DEEDS

God is not impressed by my good deeds. After all, He sees ALL my deeds, not just the good ones. In fact, He not only sees WHAT I do, He sees WHY I do them, openly peering into the motives behind both good and bad actions. Frankly, this is not a comforting thought, but what is comforting is that He accepts my intent to do good even though it is rarely ever absolutely pure. The Perfect One is willing to work within and through my imperfections, all the while, exposing and cleansing the intentions of my heart. Lord, I’m amazed by You. You invite us into partnership with You holy work. Forgive the mixture of motives within me and cleanse me through and through.

CHASING AWAY DARKNESS

Creepy insects come out when night falls but when the lights come on they quickly scatter and hide. Similarly, things done which seem so safe and delightfully satisfying when hidden, suddenly become frighteningly dangerous when what has flourished in darkness is revealed by light. While many foolishly claim that living in darkness is actually enlightening, just one moment bathed in the Light of Truth tells all. You, O LORD, are my lamp; You turn my darkness into light. You blow away the shrouded obscurity of night. Chase away darkness from every shadowed corner of my soul and fill each crevasse with Your Resplendent Glory.

RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION

Selective outrage is a common human malady. Why do we fight so hard for justice in one area while ignoring other injustices that may be equally bad or worse? The Bible commands: “be angry and sin not”, but this is pretty tricky. Personal opinions, prejudices, pride, ignorance or our own past hurts ruin the value of focused anger by inserting our own pain or fears into a righteous cause. Once it moves from righteous anger to personal offense it is no longer bathed in the Love of God and becomes ineffective and dangerous. Great and Mighty Lord, cleanse my heart from the sins of anger that I may fight for good with righteous indignation.

A NEW DAY DAWNING

Awake in darkness, yet light approaches. Whether I recognize it or not, daybreak is steadily marching toward me. Soon my surroundings will be bathed in brilliant light, a new day is dawning. Each sunrise is instructive, reminding us of God’s faithful supervision of His people. As surely as another day dawns, His unconstrained love is new every morning. This is the continual work of our Creator: darkness is turned to light, prisoners are released to freedom and death swallowed in victory. Lord God, You are good, so very good. Help me to recognize Your approach in my darkest moments. May I seize new beginnings, divine opportunities and fresh starts. Awaken my heart with readiness and fervor.

SHAPED

I begin this day in earnest thankfulness for those who have helped shape my life. Biblical characters, historic figures, family, friends, spiritual fathers and mothers, authors, actors, teachers and occasionally, even strangers have been used by the Master Craftsman to form me. As we have all experienced, I’ve had some who intended my harm. But my detractors, accusers, betrayers and openly antagonistic enemies have also played an important role in my formation. For them as well, I am equally grateful. Lord, I thank You for each and every one You have employed to forge me into a man of Your making. May I also be a quality tool in Your hand, useful for shaping others.

DISCERNMENT

Making well-informed and thought-through decisions is wise, but there is no dependable substitute for divinely guided discernment. We need good judgment to distinguish between inspired thoughts and selfish fantasies since they often appear the same at first glance. The immature mind, driven by personal desire, can be easily confused. Imagination is a wonderful gift from God, but like everything else in this life, it must be deliberately brought under surrendered obedience to God. Lord of Creation, teach me to truly submit my thoughts to You today. Help me calibrate my dreams, desires and meditations to Your perfect path.

RARIFIED AIR

Many things may temporarily stir emotions, but the soul cannot be awakened to God without Divine Initiative. It is the spark of the Lord Almighty that instigates deep searching or gnawing spiritual hunger. A horse will not walk straight without a hand on the reigns and I will do no better. We must never forget the constant need for God’s guiding touch upon our souls. Lord of Glory and All Wisdom, You stir my heart and steady my steps. You O Lord Who are capable of all things will order my steps and lead me to secret places where I may breathe the rarified air of the Most High. I gratefully welcome Your celestial intervention.

SAY LESS, DO MORE

We live in an era when there is a growing chasm between words and actions. It seems the proliferation of so many gadgets for 24/7 communications has worsened the problem. The sheer volume of things said so easily to so many contributes to falsehood. There is no duplicity in God, what He says, He does. He ”watches over His Word to perform it.” It is time to say less and do more. Lord of Truth and Action, help me to live by deeds rather than mere words. Purge from me all that is false. May my love for others be honest and my words bathed in wisdom, grace and truth.

GARBAGE PICK-UP DAY

We live in a townhome community where everything is very neat and uniform. It pretty much looks the same most of the time, except on trash day. Even then, we each have exactly the same huge garbage and recycling bins which are designed to be emptied by an automated refuse system. It all seems so tidy, but let’s face it, inside those bins is garbage. They stand at attention, symmetrically spaced, lids closed, but no matter how we dress it up, life is messy. Glorious Father, forgive my attempts to hide my rubbish. My wrongdoing knows far too few limits, yet You do not turn away in disgust. Instead, you deal with the garbage while cleaning the container. Lord, cleanse me afresh.

UNFAILING LOVE

I have made many successful repairs over a lifetime by learning how to fix things by first taking them apart. Unfortunately, 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 don’t know why I sometimes struggle to trust in His unfailing love. Everything He creates is created in His amazing love. Everything He redeems is redeemed in His amazing love. Unlike the earthly brand of affection, His unfailing love never fails. 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.

UNVEILED

Another daybreak brings me one day closer to an unveiled look into the face of my Creator and Redeemer. The very thought of it brings forth both excitement and trepidation. To see as I am seen and know as I am known is at once exhilarating, and frankly, a bit intimidating. But I am comforted to know that He Himself is making me fit for that moment. I am keenly aware that the actions and attitudes of my heart fall short of His glory, but according to His Word, He will finish what He started. Lord of Mercy and Grace, once more I remember, only by Your grace and mercy do I stand. You alone are able to prepare me for Your Presence.

BEYOND THE COMMON COURSE

The salt marshes along the southeastern coast can be quite tricky to navigate. Many perils await; such as hidden, oyster-covered sand bars and maze-like waterways that easily confuse the inexperienced. However, leaving the safety of the marked channels opens endless rewards of beautiful wildlife such as manatees and bald eagles, great fishing, a kaleidoscope of colors and a serene sense of quiet privacy. In those exquisite moments it all seems divinely composed. Well, it is. A similar experience can belong to those who pull away from mundane spirituality. The God-seeker will soon become the God-finder. Lord of Might and Wonders, help me seek the unseen beyond the common course. Nudge me toward divine moments just beyond the channel where Your Glory awaits the seeker and rarified air fills every breath.

OPEN SEWAGE

One of the discomforts of traveling in many Third-World nations is the common use of open sewage lines in otherwise modern cities. While not as terrible as one might think, still, the unpleasant odors become a constant nuisance. Over time you get somewhat acclimated to it and only occasionally notice its presence.  The same is true of our spiritual walk; allowing sewage to run openly through our lives will dull our senses to its presence. High and Lofty One, lift me from the squalor of worldliness and cleanse the polluting stream of immorality from my soul. Make my life a sweet savor before You and others.

CUSTOM DESIGNED

In a world of mass production, custom design is all the rage. Yet, when it comes to spiritual matters we all too often just follow the crowd. No one else can protect my heart from following after the wrong things. Only I can surrender my decisions to God; depending on others to do what only I can is not only foolish, it can be deadly. What may be permissible for another person could be disastrous for me. The path for someone else could lead me astray. I must allow God’s Word and Spirit to custom design my daily walk. O Lord My Keeper, help me dwell safely in Your protective care. Corral my straying heart and bind me to Your will alone. Help me stay in my own lane.

FRAUGHT WITH OVERTHOUGHT

Today I will think thousands of thoughts. Neuroscientists estimate the average person has a minimum of 20,000 “present moment” thoughts each day. Some have the number as high as 70,000! I often over-think problems, mulling over the same details ad nauseam. I do this knowing all along that the answers I most often seek come from God alone. Yet, I ponder, reflect, get advice, ruminate and keep trying to figure it all out. Will I never learn? An overcharged mind is no substitute for a heart at peace and 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, Your Promises.

HARNESSED

An ox will not walk straight without a harness holding him in place, however with needed constraints hitched on, great power is released for the good of others. I too, need a yoke to stay on course. I cannot fulfill my high calling unless I’m firmly harnessed to God’s commands. When we desert the law of love, depravity and chaos rule. “Love your neighbor as yourself” is not a helpful hint for being a nicer person, it is the royal command of our Creator and the only path to a life filled with divine purpose. I must be continually harnessed to the needs of others to accomplish God’s will. Father, You are Love. Of myself, I love poorly, but I desire to learn to let love govern my heart and ways. Your yoke of love is my guide.

DIVINE GENEROSITY

God is indescribably generous. Consider how He bestows blessings upon those who love Him and even over those who curse Him. Giving activates godlike capabilities imprinted on every human heart by its Creator. There is a part of our soul that simply cannot be switched on apart from generosity. Benevolence without authentic love is possible, but genuine love devoid of giving is utterly impossible. Beneficence with strings attached is the earthly way, giving unconditionally is divine. Lord, teach me Your ways. Thank You for every opportunity to be more like You. Open my hands while flooding my heart with a giving spirit.

TRANSFORMED

Big cities can become drab, grey and unwelcoming in the deep cold of winter. Recently, I looked out the window of my hotel room at such a dreary sight. Closing the curtains felt good as I put behind me a day I would rather not repeat. The next morning, upon opening the curtains, I was surprised to see that everything had been softly and quietly covered in snow, and I had slept through it all. I had been totally wholly unaware of the transformation while it was happening. The formerly unsightly image was now a winter wonderland of beauty; clean, fresh and inviting. In like manner, the Spirit of God transforms my life, often without me realizing it until later. Blessed Father, You continually renew all that is within me, covering, transforming and bestowing Your Glory.

CHASING THE WIND

The seemingly universal mantra “Follow your dream” is constantly declared from kindergartens to Ivory League classrooms, from kitchen tables to pulpits, from boardrooms to backyards, but is it sound advice? The fact is, dreams can mutate into nightmares; dreams can be no more than chasing the wind. For the person of faith, dreams, like every other human desire, must be bathed in holy surrender to the Giver of Life. I refuse to substitute an earthly dream for my heavenly calling. God’s dream for my life must become my relentless, singular pursuit. Lord God, Your will does not diminish my life or happiness. Pull me this day deeper into Your purpose and plans.

PRIVILEGED FRATERNITY

Much of my time is spent in a wide variety of leadership meetings. My life has been so greatly enriched, formed and challenged by the cornucopia of insights, giftings, serious thinking, confrontations and humor of these precious moments. While at times it is exhausting, difficult decisions managed by imperfect people under constant pressures in challenging circumstances, deposits unique value to my soul. How precious are these times of collective wisdom, prayerful discourse, surrender, trust, discovery and faith. Lord, thank You for those willing to lay down their lives for others, I am not worthy of such privileged fraternity and enterprise. Make me a better leader. Make me a better man.

NO ERASE BUTTON

There is no erase button for the past, but each new day offers a fresh opportunity to refine the art of recovery and transformation. The level of genuineness we bring to these moments can either speed along this process or bring it to a full stop. Rather than blaming someone or something else, each setback presents a chance for self-examination and fresh surrender to God’s ways over our own. Even a sore tooth has its value, bringing attention to a hidden, underlying problem. Blaming the tooth brings no relief, but putting our pain before a qualified healer can change everything. Holy Redeemer, I offer neither excuses nor blame for my wounds; only humble abandon to Your holy work in me today.

WHAT, HOW & WHY

My early years were spent learning WHAT to do, followed by decades of learning HOW to do what I do better. I am still learning “what and how”, but more recently the focus has shifted to WHY I do what I do. Perhaps it takes a lifetime of journeying through the twisted tangles of life to get to the question of motive. The ebb and flow of people and circumstances eventually strips away every veneer, depositing a simple prayer in our hearts: “Father, not my will, but Yours be done.” Lord, reveal and cleanse my deepest motives. May Your perfect will come forth in me and through my activities today. Shine Your Light into every corner of my soul.

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.