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Showing posts from May, 2017

CRITICISM

Criticism, whether fair or not, is an important component of our growth process. Even when clearly offered with wrong motives, criticism 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. When I am criticized, my first instinct is to criticize the critic, but there is no benefit down that path. A person fully aware that God “works all things to our good” may be stung, but never devastated by the disapproval of others, knowing that in the end His favor and love triumphs. Father, sustain me and transform me by whatever means You choose. I am earnestly thankful for the stripping away of every weakness or flaw.

HOUSE OF MIRRORS

Children have a fascination with mirrors and I was no exception. Few mirrors got by me without at least a passing glance. I was quite young the first time I visited a House of Mirrors; that was an interesting, funny and creepy experience. I quickly realized a false image is entertaining but useless. As we mature we use status, relationships, accomplishments and popularity to reveal who we are, but this too, is merely a house of mirrors. It is high time we give up childhood games and face the mirror of God’s Word. There we must remain, a passing glance will not do. Lord of Truth, only You can accurately reveal the man I am. I thank You for the power of Your Word and Spirit to reveal the unvarnished truth. Transform every part of me into a son who pleases you.

I AM

The words “I AM!” were voiced from a burning bush and turned the meekest man on earth into a thundering prophet and deliverer for millions of slaves. A whispered declaration of “I AM!” from a tired, thirsty throat on the darkest night of mankind sent the world’s finest trained soldiers falling to the ground like bowling pins as the great deceiver slithered away. “I AM!!”  No further explanation is required. No power in heaven or earth can usurp authority over Him or hold back His Mighty Hand. No circumstance of this life can eclipse the Light of His Glory nor abate the magnitude of His Love. Almighty God, King of the Universe, Great I AM, to all my woes I say in unshakable rest: “YOU ARE”. Enough said.

LEAK PATROL

The temptation to compromise is constant. While most sincere believers hold the line on the big issues, it is easy to make concessions on smaller things. We can be spirit-filled, yet leaking. Those who manage dams do not take cracks lightly. Leaks do not self-repair, they must be addressed or they will only worsen, so leak patrols must be constantly carried out.  The same can be said of the soul. When life’s pressures build, even the most spirit-filled heart can be drained. I must consistently seek fresh infilling and simultaneously take care of issues that siphon away God’s Presence. No one else can guard my heart; I must take personal responsibility to remain filled. Glorious God and Father, open the windows of heaven afresh. Grant me wisdom to recognize and attend to things that deplete my heart of Your Glory and Work.

COMMON SENSE

It sometimes seems that common sense is no longer so common. Convoluted rationales rooted in reimagining the world to revolve around one’s own personal happiness, is the culprit. The principles of right and wrong or common good get completely lost in an environment of “do your own thing no matter what” and “if it feels right it must be right for you”. Not so for the true followers of the Master. A Biblical worldview empowered by the Holy Spirit and a surrendered heart puts ultimate truth back into its proper place. Lord of Light, align my heart and mind to truth. Calibrate my human reasoning to transcendent knowledge, divine wisdom and godly love.

LOVE LIBERATES

As of late I have experienced an intensified impulse to pray. While prayer has been an important part of my daily life for a long time, this is different. Specific people and issues have been on my heart in greater volume and intensity. As I pray for others, God lays open the cover-ups and barriers within me; healing incurable wounds, breaking through previously invincible walls. The lessons here are many, but one comes through most clear; love liberates faith to operate freely. Father, in Your mercy, hear my prayers. Thank You for the gift of interceding for others, and thank You for leaving no stone unturned in my own heart.

SWEET SPOT

My heart is far too easily pulled into the gravity field of this world’s 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 my mind.

WAITING FOR VALIDATION

Once, while waiting for a software update to install, the screen read: “Waiting for validation”. It occurred to me that I had done the same; I have waited, actually yearned to be validated by people, things, awards, titles and practically everything else. It’s foolish really. The only thing that can validate the human soul is right standing with God. In Scripture, the Lord Almighty proclaims: “I have called you by name, you are mine.” I need not continue waiting for things that will always fail since the unshakable love of the King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s is my eternal validation. My Lord, My God, I am Yours. You have chosen me, redeemed me, called me, empowered me and sent me forth in Your love and with Your love. It is well with my soul.

ANOTHER LAP

A new day, time for another lap. Every second is precious, each moment being an irreplaceable gift of time. He that holds time in His grasp pours it forth like grains of sand. I desire to make wise and effective use of this day as it unfolds. Without God’s help this would be Impossible, but the gift of new opportunities to act is accompanied with a daily allotment of grace, wisdom and faith. There is no lack in our Heavenly Father’s supply and as the psalmist declared, He “withholds no good thing” from His children. So, I will boldly step ahead, knowing all I need is waiting for my arrival. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! Teach me Your ways and thank You for another lap.

THE DAWN OF DELIVERANCE

Difficult times bring many valuable lessons. Most of the important changes I have made in life have come as a direct result of a crisis. As the pressure rises, so does my focus and intensity of seeking God’s face. Fresh grace to deal with unplanned circumstances is granted to the hungering pilgrim. While I do not intentionally seek more problems, there seems to be no shortage. Nor, however, is there ever a shortage of God’s Mercy and Goodness. Every time I get dog piled by dilemmas there is a corresponding avalanche of grace released from heaven. Glory to You Lord God Almighty, thank You for each new opportunity to know You and Your ways more perfectly. In my darkest hour You sweetly lead me toward your heavenly light till the dawn of deliverance is mine!

JUST BEYOND REACH

Having raised a houseful of children we learned a few things about the challenges and blessings of childhood curiosity. When they were small, we often kept things just out of their reach. Certain things we kept away from our home altogether. As a child of God I must keep in mind that whatever is beyond reach was put there by my Heavenly Father. In some cases, things are just beyond touch to urge me forward, to climb higher. However, in other situations the extra distance is for my protection; to keep me from pain or worse. It is comforting to know, the Holy One, who places things beyond my grasp, can just as easily drop them in my lap if it accomplishes His will. Blessed Lord, I trust Your ways, knowing that what is inaccessible for me is firmly in Your grip.

BEYOND THE POSSIBLE

How do we traverse unknown terrain when we are not even sure where we are headed? Abram’s journey from his birthplace to a promised inheritance has lessons to offer. What do we do when God calls us to move forward, but a huge obstacle stands in our way? Or how do we cross over when we can’t see a way to get there? The Hebrews faced these dilemmas multiple times in their journey from Egypt back to the Promised Land. But again, there are answers for us in their journey. Clearly, we must first be willing to leave something behind to take hold of the unseen. When the path is blocked we must take steps of faith, understanding that sometimes the waters do not part until our toes are in the water and our enemies on our heels. O Lord my Deliverer, thank You for taking me beyond the possible! I can do all things Your Will demands and done within Your Strength! All things.

DUMP THE DROSS

Dross is a mass of impurities floating in molten metal. Whether working with steel or precious metals, the quality cannot be improved without removing the dross. When the heat is on, gold grows more pure while the dross masses become even more impure. Metal can’t purify itself; only the furnace can reveal its imperfections. So it is with a sports team, a church or for that matter, any human enterprise. Those with impure motives, immaturity or insincere hearts often want to be a part or even lead, but sadly, they are hindrances to a quality outcome and sooner or later they must change or be removed. And so it with my soul; the dross has to go. Lord, You are the Great Craftsman. Cleanse all impurities from my soul and in my daily life and work, deliver me from wicked pretenders.

FAITH NOT FOOLISHNESS

I have a lifelong tendency to take chances. Sometimes it serves me well, such as when spiritual opportunities present themselves; after all, a boat tied to the dock never knows the joys of open water. Being adverse to risk often keeps us from taking leaps of faith, but on the other hand, recklessness is dangerous. For instance, thoughtless words can easily damage relationships. Recklessness can endanger our physical wellbeing, our testimony to others or even our faith. Lord of Faith and Wisdom, bring Spirit-controlled balance to my character and behaviors today. Help me take leaps of faith not foolish plunges.

THE REAL DEAL

It is difficult to believe a society has ever been as pretentious as our own, but let’s get real; living by pretense is no life at all. God created mankind to bear His image, not to skulk around 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 initiates a clean sweep of all fraud. Sure, falsehood may hang around, but will find no easy resting place with Truth on guard. 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. Make me entirely the real deal.

STILL WATERS

As I awaken to the dawning of a new day apprehensions and responsibilities immediately attempt to take control of the moment, but first I must sit at the Master’s feet. Frankly, like Martha, I too am tempted to complain from the kitchen rather than choose a “better thing” as did Mary. Even my morning prayers are often poorly concealed attempts to get something accomplished, being little more than another checklist. I must again ask myself, would a gushing river of thoughts and words accomplish more than quiet meditation? The words of the psalmist come to mind: “Be still and know that I am God.” Rather than complex wordsmithing that does little more than occupy my own mind as I pray, today I will let go of my concerns in silent seeking. Lord, You are enthroned over all. In peace do I praise You. On green pastures I repose, by still waters I rest and by Your hand Good Shepherd, my soul is restored.

THE FACE OF GOD

While having lunch at an airport restaurant I watched a young mother and her  baby. She was clearly enraptured with what was likely her first child. It seemed she was taking in every detail of the infant’s eyes, toes, smiles, fingers…everything. Her obvious delight in interacting with her swaddled babe made me wonder, does God delight in nurturing us?  Then I remembered the passage: “He will take great delight in you; in His love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” All of our best human characteristics are only imperfect reflections of God’s nature. A mother’s tendency to reflect deeply upon their child is rooted in God’s behavior. Motherhood is but another way to behold the Face of God. Thanks to all the mom’s out there who help us peer into the wonders of HaShem. And, Happy Mother’s Day!

TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!

"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" declared President Ronald Reagan in June of 1997, calling for the Soviet leader to open up the barrier that stopped the free flow of people. The wall came down and freedom brought blessing. It still does. The person who builds walls around their heart, allowing others in only if they meet certain preconditions, has inadvertently constructed a self-imposed prison. While thinking they have wisely assembled a protective fortress against disappointments, they have guaranteed a lifetime of sorrow and loneliness for themselves. This behavior actually shuts out God’s Presence as much as it shuts out people and leads to unfettered selfishness. Father, deliver me from all efforts that lead to contempt and unthoughtfulness toward others. Where a wall of selfishness stands, Lord, in Your mercy, tear down this wall.

TRUTHFUL LOVE

While wisdom and gentleness with others who disagree is a good approach to resolution, ultimately truth must be spoken and advanced in spite of resistance. Love demands truthfulness. Fearing what people think above the concern for them being harmed by ignorance or deception is evil and a dangerous trap. No matter how delicately delivered, truth is, at once, freeing and offensive. I welcome the truth only when I am prepared to receive both its benefits and its discomforting demand that I respond with change. Sovereign Lord of Love and Truth, help me know Your life-giving truth and boldly declare it to others. Let kindness rooted in Your Unquenchable Love always be my motivation and method for proclaiming truth to others.

UNWRAPPED

The pursuit of the Perfect One while still wrapped in the imperfection of this life is our daily conundrum. Like Lazarus, we are made alive inwardly by the mighty words of our Savior: “Come forth!” And like Lazarus, we too, must be unwrapped from the lingering linens of death. Others assisted his freedom as they also followed the Master’s command: “Loose him and let him go”. The freedom to which God calls us is accomplished in the same manner. Lord of the Free Indeed, help me not resist being unwrapped. Incline my heart to obey Your Word without hesitation and use me to help others be released to walk in freedom.

THE FINISH LINE

While NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. has quite a collection of trophies from his racing wins, he also has a graveyard of totaled racecars on his property that he calls “Dirty Mo Acres”. Junkyards, with their messy spread of old or wrecked cars can be eerily fascinating; so many stories are connected to the rusting heaps as they sit in inert silence. People often end up in the same condition, their lives a messy collection of junk heaps caused by past smashups. God created us with the capacity to finish our race with the same potential we start with. Will I finish as a decrepit rust-bucket or an antique classic? I choose the latter. O Lord My Creator, help me run well to the finish line. Infuse me with Your power that I may charge ahead till my last breath. May the full extent of my purpose in this world be fulfilled.

TEAR DOWN THE TOWER

The story of the prideful construction of Tower of Babel shines a bright light on one of mankind’s most dangerous deceptions; that we can somehow ascend to God through our own efforts. Our pursuit of God is always preceded by His pursuit of us. Like an adult to a small child, He bends down low to us; His love descends and awakens our love for Him. As the song declares: “Heaven came down and Glory filled my soul”. Lord God, Lover of Our Souls, I am humbled and amazed by Your love pursuit. Forgive my attempts to rise to Your Glory on my own. LORD, in Your Mercy, tear down my foolishly assembled towers of pride.

MY FATHER'S SHOES

The desire to walk in bigger shoes is instinctive and rooted in mankind’s created purpose; we are being groomed for higher things. As a child I would commandeer my father’s shoes and walk around the house. It was clumsy, awkward, adventurous and a bit perilous; it still is. Now that my daily pursuit is to walk in my Heavenly Father’s shoes, I often experience the same perils I did as a child. I often feel too small, too amateurish, too inelegant inelegant and clunky. But wear them I must. Lord, I am still a rookie, but I know that risk is reward when taken in pursuit of Your will. Stabilize my steps as I continue to learn.

CHILDLIKE NOT CHILDISH

All that I do is in the full sight of God. My only certain hope of pleasing Him is that He views me as His child. As Scripture proclaims: “What great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” My role? I must be childlike, but not childish, innocent but not imprudent, happy hearted but not foolish, curious, but not meddlesome. I must put away behaviors unworthy of the family of God and freely pass along to others the blessings I so openly enjoy. Thank You Father that I am Your child. I yearn to please You today. I welcome Your guiding hand and desire to hear and obey.

LIFTING POWER

While living as missionaries in Quito, Ecuador our home was 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.

WHEELS ON THE PAVEMENT

Another day has arrived. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow remains beyond the horizon. What I have is now. It is time to ignore what should have been or what is to come; the prevailing question is “what does the Lord require of me THIS day?” I need my mind and heart in the game. The careless ease of self-confident fools destroys them. Too often, I drift over the line or drop a wheel off the pavement for lack of proper attention to the moment. Lord, I commit my ways to You. With Your help I will pay better attention. Prompt me in things both large and small and keep me centered in Your Will.

EYES OPENED

Concerning the work of God in our lives, there is always more to the story than we can possibly know. Whatever we see as we face difficult or complicated circumstances is never the full picture. Like Elisha’s servant who needed his spiritual eyes opened to be able to see the army of angels that encircled the Israel’s enemies, we too, need our eyes opened to the full measure of the Lord’s surrounding Presence. The divine purpose behind every earthly trial far outweighs whatever temporary discomfort or fear we may feel. In these occasions there is no substitute for knowing God’s love and promises. O Lover of My Soul, I praise You for Your faithful care and power to save. Open my eyes to Your Glory and Power.

DAILY REPLENISHING

Things in life must be replenished. Clothes must be washed, pets must be fed, homes must be repaired and the list goes on and on. So why would we think we should be filled with God’s Spirit or surrender to His Sovereignty only once? Many seem surprised to learn that daily replenishing is necessary for the people of God. Like manna in the desert, yesterday’s blessings perish quickly. Today I must again dig deep, remind my heart of God’s faithfulness and recommit to His will and ways. Lord Almighty, I renew my vows to You. Fill me afresh with Your Presence. I again put my hand to the plow and resolve to finish my course with fervor.