Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2018

OPEN OUR EYES LORD

In Ephesians 4 the apostle Paul prayed: “thatthe God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,the eyes of your[f]understanding being enlightened; that you may know what isthe hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,and whatisthe exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe”. There is nothing shadowed or obscured for the LORD Our Light and Salvation. With laser focus, His Glory penetrates every manner of darkness, His wisdom unveiling every deception. From Him, nothing may be hidden nor camouflaged nor squirreled away. For every child of His defeated by weariness, for the soul buried in the depths of a lightless abyss, for the ones for whom all seems lost, His luminous approach floods the wastelands of destitution with unending hope and rescue. O LORD God Almighty, Ruler of All Things, Our Provider, Our Protector, Our Shepherd, Our Peace and Our Vict…

ON THIN ICE

“Now come, and I will send you to Pharaoh so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I to go to Pharaoh and bring the people of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:10-11). I understand Moses’ reluctance, 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 weaknesses invite God’s mercy, strength and goodness. So I begin another day shrouded in frailty but anticipating a new measure of grace and victory, contemplating God’s promise to Moses “I will be with you.” Blessed 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.

THE DANGER OF ENVY

“A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot” (Proverbs 14:30). Carrying nuclear waste in my pocket would be no more deadly than carrying envy in my heart, they both have the power to destroy lives. Malice grows quickly in the heart that harbors jealousy, emptying the soul of joy, peace and purpose. It is a slippery slope from witty criticisms to skillful, malicious rumormongering and malignant dismembering of the reputations of others. In reality, to covet someone else’s life is disavowal of God’s care and purpose for our own. It is in effect unbelief and a false accusation of God’s loving care and wisdom. O Lord, My Healer, eradicate from my soul all envy, jealousy and malice. May thankfulness be my constant companion and joyfulness the dominant factor in every thought, word and deed.

PERFECT TIMING

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” These are mind-stretching words from the Book of Revelation about God and time as we humanly measure it. Chronological time moves from the past, through the present and into the future, and is the only time we can humanly measure. God, on the other hand is the “I Am”, the “Alpha and Omega”, and the “Beginning and the End”. He dwells in all moments, past present future simultaneously. In 2 Peter 3:8 we read: “Beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day”. This is why the victories won on the Cross so long ago are never distant from my current needs, “In Him” they are freshly unfolding right now! This is why His Promises are always within reach, “In Him” they are present at this very moment! Glorious Father help me set aside the barriers of time and distance. “In You I live and move and have my being!”

THE FEAR OF GOD

In Philippians 2:12 we read: “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” To “fear God” is not having terror of Him, rather it is fear of following mankind’s ways rather than His ways. Every town has its scrapheap and my life does as well. There it is, a junkyard littered with the rusting hulks of past crashes of my own making; the results of going my own way instead of His. My “fear” is that I would again mistakenly seek my own way. Only in absolute surrender and reverent obedience can fear be obliterated. David declared: “I sought the LORD, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.” And Philippians 2:13 proclaims, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Now THAT is GREAT NEWS! LORD, my fears are swept away by Your relentless pursuit of my heart! Keep me on track and at a safe speed.

CHANNELS OF BLESSING

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. This is the model for understanding our purpose and how to fulfil it. As recipients of God’s goodness, we must pass along what we receive. Most Christians do not get this therefore stunting their own spiritual growth. My spiritual father, Costa Deir taught: “There is a one-word definition of love…’Others’”. What God makes happen for you, equips you to make things happen for others, assuring your own spiritual growth. Our lives are to be channels of blessing, not reservoirs where only spillover is offered! The old hymn states it well: “Make me a channel of blessing today, make me a channel of blessing I pray; My life possessing, my service blessing, Make me a channel of blessing today.” LORD thank You fo…

SMALL THINGS

“For who has despised the day of small things?” Zechariah 4:10. Christmas has many lessons in it, not the least of which is the birth of a child in a small, dusty, village on the backside of nowhere. It happens every day around the world, yet this seemingly unremarkable event in this tiny town perched on the hills of Judea changed everything for everyone everywhere for all time. It begs the question, what great thing is ahead that is currently in seed form in my life?” As far as we know, only a few local shepherds, three foreign Wise Men, a young couple and a few animals beheld this momentous, world-changing event. But heaven was singing and celebrating with song. LORD God, King of the Universe, as I begin this day, I commit my heart and mind to pay more attention to the small things. Help me not miss a thing You are doing in my life.

O NIGHT DIVINE

Shadowy figures slowly come into focus as a weary young couple stares into the darkness of early nightfall, searching for a place to stay. Their long, dusty journey has brought them to the hills of Judea, to the small town where King David had been born so many years before. Empty, uninviting streets contradict the importance of this glorious, miraculous moment. All the company of heaven peers down in joyful celebration while the hordes of hell shrink back in disoriented confusion. What child is this? Soon, blazing truth will rip away the shroud of darkness and the Savior of the world will be revealed. O holy night, O night divine. LORD God Almighty, may this holy eventide on which we celebrate with angels the coming of Your Son, be a time of joy, reconciliation, giving, love, laughter and worship. And may Our Savior be openly welcomed into the hearts of men, women and children around the world.

IN LOVE

1 Corinthians 16:14 succinctly sums up what each of us must do our best to master, “Do everything in love”. And in 1 John 4:8 we read “Whoever does not love does not know God, because "God is love.” If considered together, these passages reveal that I cannot consistently act in love toward others without being “in love” with God, so the depth of my love for God can be accurately determined by measuring my love for others. And since “God so loved the world”, I must not selectively love only those I feel a connection to, I must love as God loves…without discrimination. Jesus commanded, “Jesus commanded, “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you”. Wow. LORD of Love, purge my heart. Cleanse me of all indifference, bigotry, prejudice or hatred in any form. Teach me to love as You love.

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 to accompany you, no one else can enter this private space. Likewise, no one else can fully share your soul’s deepest joys, it's 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, Yahweh alone can walk with you there. In fact, He is waiting for you there. Almighty Father, I am never alone or without recourse; You, O LORD, are the ever-present Shepherd of My Soul.

A DANGEROUS BREW

Growing up in Florida did little to prepare me for treading on ice-covered ground. On my first winter trip to the mountains of North Carolina I was filled with the self-assured hubris of a thirteen-year-old boy. As I was again being warned of its danger, I brashly walked onto the ice. At the exact moment I confidently said, “it’s no problem, I can handle it”, both of my feet lost footing and I fell flat on my back. In fact, I fell hard several times. Lesson learned; ignorance, arrogance and stubbornness are a very dangerous brew indeed. “You ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.” (James 4:15-16). Lord God, You are my Faithful Instructor. I confess to You that presumptuousness still plagues my soul. Purge from me all indifference to Your voice and keep me safely within the boundaries of Your wise counsel.

NOT BY MIGHT

In Hannah’s prayer of thankfulness for God granting her a son she cries out:“It is not by strength that one prevails” (1 Samuel 2:9).  This is counter-intuitive since we all know we need strength to thrive in this world. But Hannah is not suggesting there is no need to be strong, she is pointing out that man’s strength is limited, but God’s power is limitless. Nothing has changed. We are commanded in 1 Corinthians 16:13 to “stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” We must do our part, but always understanding that it is God’s strength that prevails. LORD, my weaknesses invite Your strength. You O LORD  are my strength and shield! By Your strength I can do all things. 

OUR ONLY SURE DEFENSE

Psalm 118:14 “The LORD is my strength and my defense.” King David acknowledged that even though he is both a king and warrior, he is powerless without God’s favor and help. When Nehemiah heard of Jerusalem’s terrible condition with its walls destroyed he wanted to defend it, but he started with is own repentance: “I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you.” We cannot effectively stand against the enemies around us until we address our own standing with God. Father, forgive my sins and and grant me Your strength that I may help others.

DIVINE DELAYS

In Proverbs 16:3 it states: “Commit your works to the Lord and your thoughts will be established.” This verse makes it very clear that we must first commit what we do to God, and then and only then will divine clarity begin to unfold. God will not commit His wisdom and resources to something not born of Him, nor if we are not fully prepared to trust Him throughout. He is not holding back for His own sake but as a Good Father He delays certain things for our sake, “For the sake of My name I delay My wrath, And for My praise I restrain it for you, In order not to cut you off,” Isaiah 48:9. In other words, God delays manifesting the big picture outcome He is after until we get on board. He delays so we don’t get left behind and miss our call, purpose and reward. Holy LORD, God of Mercy And Grace, thank You for Your kindness and patience toward Your children.

HANDRAILS

Psalm 119:133 “Direct my steps by Your Word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me.” Like most people, I have stumbled on stairs plenty of times over a lifetime. I am not sure why it took me so long to recognize 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 the rail’s stabilizing safety. Actually, my whole life requires equilibrium and boundaries. God, in His Immense Goodness, provides the handrails His Word and Spirit to keep me safe from foolhardy ways. Father of All Mercies, thank You for Your steadfast patience and constant care. Guide my steps and use me to help others make it safely through the ups and downs of this world.

THREE FOR ONE

I love a good deal, so I often check out the bargains at the grocery store. I particularly like the “Three-For-One” offers. God seems to like them as well. For instance, “Faith, Hope and Love” are so bound together that the exercise of any one activates the others. As is the Holy Trinity, they are distinct in practice, but in fact, are three in one. Like facets of a diamond, even the slightest turn toward one releases the resplendent beauty of all. If you truly believe, then love will abound. When love abounds hope is raised. When hope rises, faith is released. What a glorious trinity of tools in our hands provided by God for knowing Him and doing His will. Such a deal! Blessed Trinity, Your mysteries are beyond earthly comprehension, yet may be practiced by a child. I stand amazed.

AN OILY START

Matthew Chapter 25 offers the lesson of the Ten Virgins: “Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them.” We shouldn’t start each day’s journey on empty hoping to strike oil along the way. My calendar stays full, but the real issue is whether my lamp is full; when the Bridegroom arrives will any oil be found in my lamp? I cannot depend upon past spirituality as this day approaches, so I seek Him before today’s journey begins. His words should be the first to cross my mind and shape the priorities of this new day. The first tear of repentance floods the soul with grace, the first word of praise uncaps a wellspring of joy, a single Promise proclaimed in earnest faith sends demon hoards scattering! Lord God of Mercy and Goodness, I praise you afresh. May Your oil of gladness flood my soul and ignite full-flamed. Darkness now scampers away as Your Light dawns! Let’s roll!

ON MY SIDE

Psalm 118:5-6 “I called on the Lord in distress; The LORD answered me andset me in a broad place. The LORD is on my side; I will not fear.” Mankind's fallen nature inherited from Adam’s sin made us enemies of God, but the redemptive work of our Savior opened the way for us to become His sons and daughters. This great salvation proclaims the wonderful truth, the LORD is on our side. I would have remained in darkness and utterly lost forever had not the LORD been on my side. My attempts to follow His will or pursue His call would be entirely impossible and my hopes would have been vanquished forever had not the LORD been on my side. While at times I struggle to muster the strength and valor to fight this earthly battle, I know I will finish strong for the LORD is on my side. Glorious Adonai, Captain of Our Salvation, Eternal Father, all glory to You now and forever! I march ahead in victory and abiding peace along with all who are Yours, for You O LORD are on my side.

JERK-IN-THE-BOX

I saw unrestrained anger recently while standing in line at an airport. A man placed his bag on the floor in front of him while in line. The man ahead didn’t notice and stepped backward for some reason and stumbled. It got ugly fast and painful to watch. The anger in one fired up the anger in the other and a volcano erupted. Obviously something had been turning the crank for each of these two strangers and it took just one crank more for two Jerk-In-The-Boxes to pop up. I am eternally thankful that God has pretty much expunged vitriol from my soul. Even the slightest ripple of hatred grieves the surrendered heart. I still get angry more than I should, but realize now more than ever what a protective gift the love of God truly is. Ephesians 4:32 “"Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." Lord of Love, thank You for the powerful forces of kindness and forgiveness. Strengthen my resolve to walk in love.

GOOD PEOPLE

Proverbs 12:2 “A good man obtains favor from the Lord, but a man of wicked intentions He will condemn.” We know that Jesus said, “There is none good but the Father” so how do we interpret this contradiction? It requires taking in the full counsel of God. In Hebrews we are instructed that the Word of God “is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”. So intentions matter with God. The key here is to allow the Word to clean up your heart by exposing your intentions, which it clearly has the power to do. We “obtain favor” with God by seeking His will over our own. It is a daily battle, which is why we need to read and meditate on His WORD daily. Good people are not perfect people, they are hungry people; seekers are finders! LORD, I know my failures all to well, but I believe Your Word, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in [me] will complete it”.

FEELING THANKFUL

In Luke 17 Ten lepers were cured, but only one returned to express gratitude. Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” Great question. But even King David found it necessary to remind himself of his many blessings and to command his own heart, “Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits”.Our tendency to focus on what we lack in life robs us of enduring gratefulness. Giving thanks should not be corralled into moments when we feel obliged; gratefulness and praise must be a central part of our attitude and lifestyle and flow freely from the heart of a child of God. Thankfulness and praise should be our first thought, not an afterthought. God of all Blessings, Sustainer of All Life, Giver of all Grace, I thank You and praise you for Your Unceasing Goodness.  You are my Light and Salvation. To You be glory forever and ever, amen. Feeling thankful here.

QUIET PLEASE

My times of prayer are mostly done in quiet solitude early in the morning. Quiet time is the perfect remedy for the overstimulated soul. However, though it is silent around me, my internal impulses often make my meditations feel like rush hour on the I-95 Corridor. 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. Isaiah 26:3 states, “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You because he trusts in You.” But there is more. The Word stored in my heart combines with the Holy Spirit within me to guide me to wonderful places I could never find on my own. Glorious God, only You can quiet my soul. Silence my thoughts and calm my inner storm, You are my peace. I await Your voice and instructions.

NO AND NOT YET

Though small children have plenty of time on their hands they still must learn to wait. Nothing seems to put their little souls to the test more than having to delay something they want right now. A long road trip is especially hard for them to get their minds around and is usually repeatedly peppered with the question: “Are we there yet?” Actually, we never quite seem to grow up in this regard; patience with God’s pace is still an issue for me. 2 Peter 3:8 states: “do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” His timing is perfect so I must learn to not bail out before arrival. I must also resist the temptation to interpret delay as a sign God doesn’t want me to do something. Heavenly Father, teach me the difference between “No” and “Not Yet”. Grant me grace for the journey and help me not miss the lessons in the detours.

ARRESTED

The human instinct for harmony, symmetry, balance and rhythm is continually assaulted by the unpredictable anarchy that each new day brings. Striving to enter rest is the daily conundrum of the soul. It seems that most of my energy is exhausted in attempting to achieve what I must, only to find rest in abandoning my struggles to God. In Genesis 1 we find an answer to chaos: “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” The work of the Holy Spirit is precisely to bring order and truth out of chaos by leading us to still waters. FATHER, what sweet whisperings await the relinquished heart! LORD, arrest me; body, soul and spirit. Capture my heart and lock away my strivings. Teach me to succumb to Your promptings BEFORE running headlong into walls. Constrain me to “Come Unto” before I ”Go Therefore.” At Your feet is the better part.

TRUTH IN LOVE

We are bombarded with information in our modern culture. However, the intent behind information and the form of delivery is as important as the facts themselves. Scripture states: "Speak the truth in love." As light cuts through darkness, so truth cuts through deception. The simple reason we run from truth, hide the truth, bend the truth or even deny the truth is that truth is so powerfully efficient at cutting through all the nonsense; in one instant, rolling back years of falsehood. Yet, truth is useless unless delivered in love; like a glove without a hand inserted, truth cannot successfully operate apart from love. Truth originates and emanates from God so it must be embodied in His love. Heavenly Father, to walk in Your Truth is to walk in Your Love. Help me navigate the complexities of human weaknesses and find that perfect balance only You can supply.

MYSTERIES REVEALED

Like most people, I enjoy a good mystery, but I really dislike not knowing how to figure something out. The exception is when it comes to divine mysteries. While I am still just as curious, years of practice have taught me that spiritual mysteries may only be understood as God unfolds them in His own timing and His way. And even then, there is always deeper truth imbedded that may only be discerned by divine revelation of His Word and Spirit; again, in His time and His way. Human formulas or deductive reasoning, no matter how brilliantly conceived, are useless in holy space. These mysteries may solely be revealed, not solved. Glorious God, High and Mighty One, forgive my earthly attempts to uncover what You have hidden. Grant me grace and good discernment for the journey as mysteries unfold.

SILENT TRANSFORMATION

Though I have never lived where it snows regularly, I’ve seen plenty of it in my travels. More times than I can remember I have been surprised to awake to a city blanketed with snow. Through the night millions of tiny flakes had fallen, quietly covering everything and silently transforming the cityscape while I slept undisturbed. Silent transformation also happens in my soul. Nagging hurts, troubling circumstances, catastrophic losses, even painful betrayals can be completely covered over by God’s love. The moment we surrender our anxieties to Him the Holy Spirit goes to work unannounced, quietly healing our hearts and blanketing over all remnants of former pain. Glorious God, I am eternally grateful for Your life-giving Love. Use me to share with others your comfort and freedom from sorrows.

TRUSTWORTHY

The possibility of betrayal is always present in every act of trust except with God. Mention of the faithfulness of God is sprinkled throughout the Bible, but not any more clearly than in1 Corinthians 1:9 “Godisfaithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”And in2 Timothy 2:13we read: “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” Faithfulness is His very nature.To love Him is to trust Him. So here is a revelation, I can trust others precisely because I trust God. I must learn to trust that God is at work in and through others for my benefit because He is faithful. Trusting people can be dangerous, but trusting God to work through people is not a problem, we simply can never let anyone or anything be God for us but Elohim. True and Faithful One, my heart, my life, my future and my well-being are in Your faithful, trustworthy hands.

"WELL DONE"

The walk of faith is no skip through the park. Each step must be taken in open defiance of the status quo. The faith walk requires stepping the more easily attained, convenience or what is popularly accepted by everyone around you. The ones who choose the faith walk must turn their faces to the wall daily and cry out to God for strength as the distance between this world’s ways and those of the next increase. The faithful ones will eventually breathe the rarified air of the summit, where only those who dare to have their own ways vanquished abide. But still, there remains more valleys to traverse, more heights to ascend, until this earthly trek is complete and we hear His Divine Declaration: “Well done faithful servants!" Father, where You lead I will follow! By Your grace I will finish my course.LORD, to dwell in Your Presence forever is the grand prize.

GOD'S NO SLACKER

"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us...” (2 Peter 3:9). God's no slacker, He is not slow to act and His timing is perfect. What often seems like unnecessary delay is, in fact, demonstration of His patience with us. As is true with all gift-giving, the giver must choose the right moment and the receiver of the gift must be ready to receive what is offered. The right conditions are critical. When our son Ben was around eleven he decided he was ready to drive. As our family headed for the car, he rushed ahead and jumped into the driver’s seat. He was sure he was ready, however, he was unable to touch the pedals and see over the dashboard. As his father, I would one day proudly give him a car of his own, but not that day. Glorious Father, forgive my attempts to control the steering wheel before it is time. I trust Your wisdom and welcome Your divine management. Teach me Your ways.

WATERPROOF

Wood floats until it stays in the water too long. It has natural resistance to water penetration but over time the water seeps in. Once waterlogged it sinks to the bottom, so it must be removed from the water and sealed again and again against penetration. In like manner, to spend time with God and those who love Him is a sealant against becoming waterlogged with the ways of this world. Too much time in the wrong environment without protection is a recipe for disaster. We are in this world but not of it. Whether I float or sink is dependent upon a spirit-sealed life. “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” (Ephesians 1:13). My trust must be placed in Him, His Word and His Spirit for me to remain capable of floating instead of sinking. LORD, make it so. While You have me in this world use me to touch it without me sinking into it.

BELIEVING IS SEEING

It is often said, “Seeing is believing" but the Bible reveals that BELIEVING IS SEEING! In 2 Corinthians we read: “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory”. And in 2 Kings 6:17-20: “And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.’ Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” Frankly, I see the shadow of God’s Hand far more often than I see His Manifest Hand. But at times His actions, Presence and voice are so manifest that can I feel Him inwardly, see His workings visibly and understand His will for that moment with amazing clarity. But I must never forget, God dwells in my blind spots as powerfully as He does in the times when I can clearly see His Manifest Presence. I can see His Manifest Presence in past things much more easily and clearly than I see in my future, but again, He is as…

MY NECESSARY FIXES

Circumstances cannot be successfully transformed into our desired design by railing against them or blaming others. What is most needed is for me to change internally and instead of focusing on the state of affairs surrounding me. In fact, I have come to realize that God arranges custom designed “fixes” (southern vernacular for difficult circumstances) in which something in me get’s fixed. As the saying goes, “God fixed a fix to fix me”. We are told in Romans 8:28 “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” All things? Yes, to those who know and trust His perfect and perfecting love and who love Him back. To the stubborn and hard-hearted, God will show mercy, but that person will probably keep seeing the same scenery over and over. LORD, open my eyes and heart to the lessons each moment provides. I trust Your Goodness and guiding hand.

RECKLESS

The average number of words spoken in a day is somewhere between fifteen and twenty thousand. Is it any wonder we often say the wrong things? So many problems are rooted in reckless thoughts that tumble from our lips as reckless words; only fools believe we should say whatever we think. Every thought must first be brought under obedience to the Word and Spirit of the Everlasting One. Unfiltered speculations must not be allowed to roam freely in our minds and should never exit our mouths. In Proverbs 18:21 we read: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue”. Things spoken become life or death to both the speaker and hearer, therefore our words require God’s constant guidance. Lord of Love and Truth, may all my thoughts be surrendered to You. Help me guard my tongue and let love rule my heart. 

OUTCOMES OF CONNECTIVITY

I love making things work. Whether it is a relationship, an organization, a garbage disposal or a vision, my heart is drawn to finding ways for things to function better. The key to improvement of anything is to get all the connections right. A loose wire, a misplaced word, a broken relationship, or a dispute between nations, all have one common problem…disconnection. God made it this way and He is the principle source of life-giving connections. Deuteronomy 8 is often used as a model for prosperity and success, but it is really about connectivity and its outcomes. Israel’s connections to God, the Land, His Commandments, His Promises and each other would be the foundation for their success. We must seek life-giving connections and atthe end of our course be found faithfully marching in cadence with the truly God-enamored. LORD, keep me in line. Help me connect the pieces in ways that invite Your blessings.

FROM DUTY TO DELIGHT

A sense of Christian duty drives much of what I do, so each day I dutifully recommit myself to do the right things. This seems fine on the surface but as a child of God there is a more noble way. While a sense of duty is appropriate, God seeks those who delight to do His will, even if they do it imperfectly. In Psalm 40:8 David prays, “I delight to do Your will.” Yet later confessed, “I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me." Still, God said of David, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.” His eyes move to and fro over the earth searching for those who with grateful, love-filled hearts turn toward Him and make His will their first priority, not as a sense of duty, but out of delight in pleasing Him. Father, I desire to permanently join the ranks of those who move from duty to delight.

INCONVENIENT FOLLOWING

In Leviticus 22:31 we read: “Keep my commands and follow them. I am the Lord.” That is about as straightforward as it can get. The problem is that following after the Will of God is by definition inconvenient since anything that imposes upon our human desires is bothersome. Following His promptings cannot be done without constant rearrangement of our personal priorities and commitments. Daily infusion of the Word and Spirit is vital to the walk of faith but will have minimal effect without a corresponding willingness on our part to hear and obey. I am better at this process now than when it first began in my life but I must still make a daily effort to make further progress. Lord, Your relentless pursuit and unmitigated love are my strength and hope. Grant me grace for immediate obedience. Help me knuckle under and put You first in all things.

HE'S GOT THIS

I will not live my life in a fear-fueled rage against circumstances outside of my power to do anything about. While there are many things I would like changed in this world and in my life I accept that I don’t understand what is best for each moment on this earth. What I do know is that Almighty God knows and He is generous, loving, meticulous, wise and in control. He’s got this! Isaiah 41:10 the LORD commands: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” That sounds good enough for me. So I will do as did King David and command my soul to bless the Lord and not forget all the benefits He promises to His children. Glorious Father, knowing You is enough. All things are in your perfect hands; I safely advance in peace.

IN AWESOME WONDER

What does God have in store for those who seek Him? The Scriptures reveal a lot: protection, wisdom, success, eternal salvation, daily bread, hope, light to our path, still waters, peace, joy, unconditional love, discipline, inexhaustible forgiveness, redemption, a restored soul, purpose, and best of all, “when we see Him, we will be like Him”. And yet, this is but a sampling of His promises since “eye has not seen nor ears heard” the full array of His blessings. But it gets even better, 2 Corinthians proclaims: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” O Lord my God, again here I am in awesome wonder, joyfully considering Your Goodness and Mercy. My heart is singing, Your Greatness steadily unfolding.

I AM THANKFUL

“Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father.” The Apostle Paul wrote this in his letter to the Ephesians while chained in a Roman prison cell awaiting imminent execution. This would be impossible for someone with an empty heart, but a thankful heart is one of the primary characteristics of a spirit-filled life. Circumstances may steal away the inner joy of a child of God for a moment, but a person with eternity in their heart returns to equilibrium. The biblical phrases “by Him”, “in Him”, “through Him” not only point to the greatness and goodness of God, they are instructions for how to be joyful and thankful in any circumstance. LORD, this is the day You have made, I will rejoice and be glad in it!

WHEN I'M 64

The song “When I’m 64” was one of was the early songs performed by the Beatles. It was about a young man’s plans to grow old together with his lover. As a ten-year old it seemed entirely irrelevant to me, but today on my 64thbirthday it is more relevant than ever. The lyric: “Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I'm sixty-four?” could actually serve as a prayer, and the answers are “yes He does, yes He will”. The LORD does not discard His love for His servants nor does He withdraw His provision. I’m happy to report that His love is eternal. Life does seem to pass by quicker than ever these days, but eternity never runs out of time and blessing for the child of God. We are comforted by these promises: “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” So I will ignore the aging man I see in the mirror since we are commanded to: “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is un…

COMENDABLE FRATERNITY

Much of what we learn is accomplished by imitating others. Since we are predisposed to this, it is vital that we choose carefully those to whom we cast more than a glance. Covenant friendships, godly fellowship, spiritual brotherhood and missional commitments are the things that provide needed guidance to our associations. While I am naturally inclined to like people and appreciate their unique qualities and distinct differences, I must be wise in my choice of true comrades. Proverbs warns: “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” And, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Lord, You direct my steps; lead me into commendable fraternity. Use me to rightly influence others.

THE ENVY TRAP

There is a razor thin line between admiration and envy, making it dangerously easy to slip from one to the other. Respect and esteem can inspire us and provoke us to reach for greater heights, but when we cross over into personal comparisons, jealousy or judgmentalism, we become trapped in envy and resentment settles in. Proverbs states: “A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones.” In the final analysis, envy is unbelief; rooted in a lack of trust in God’s shepherding care and fed by pouting pride. For me to be jealous of another person’s blessing is, in effect, to repudiate the Goodness of our Heavenly Father toward me. LORD, You are the Way, the Truth and the Giver of Life. Deliver me from mortal traps and help me trust Your work, ways and means implicitly. Blessed be Your Name.

CRUSTY NO MORE

A large patch of dead grass in our yard had become rock hard on the surface; the destructive work of moles. No new grass would grow in that spot until the crusty remains of past greenery-gone-bad was removed. The same process is necessary within my soul. Relationships can be very life giving, but sometimes they go south quickly. The hardness of heart that past disappointments or betrayals create must be plowed under and removed or the crusty leftovers could prevent new life from emerging. Honest self-examination, forgiveness, praying for others and filling life with truth and mission are unbeatable tools for softening my heart. Glorious God, in Your Loving Mercy, break up crustiness within my heart. Make my soul pliable, ready to receive new seeds and new growth.

LADEN WITH GOD'S PRESENCE

As a youngster traveling with my family through Florida I marveled at the seemingly endless amount of fruit-laden orange trees. The branches were so full of citrus that the lower ones touched the ground. In similar fashion, each new day and each and every moment is laden with God’s Presence. It is as if I am standing next to a tree filled with ripened fruit; I can simply reach out and take its delicious bounty. Earthly trees offer but one fruit but this is different, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” I want every one of these! What will God provide me today that could change someone’s life? Will I even notice? Lord, thank You for Your bountiful blessings. Help me awaken to and take hold of Your provision. I ask that You never allow me to consume Your Goodness for myself without sharing it with others.

DIAMONDS ON MY DRIVEWAY

Passing by the front window at daybreak I looked at the driveway and received a wonderful surprise, there were diamonds everywhere; beautiful sparkles were spread across the otherwise dull concrete. Upon further examination I realized it was dew gathered on small leaves reflecting a combination of moonlight and dawning sunlight. Again, God had transformed the ordinary into something amazing and resplendent with beauty. That is what He does. A dusty rock orbiting the earth becomes a brilliant moon with God’s touch and design. An ordinary mind can have a life-altering idea with just a nudge from the All Knowing One. Jeremiah said: “Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth’.” With a single touch God made Him a mouthpiece for truth. King of Majesty, I stand amazed in Your Presence. As surely as you spread momentary treasures on the ground You spread eternal treasures throughout my life. I am very grateful.

HAPPILY DEFEATED

As a twelve-year-old Boy Scout I was almost defeated by distance. Our troop was taken on a 20-mile hike in the heat of a Florida summer. I don’t even remember my troop leader’s name but thanks to him we all learned we could go much farther than we believed possible That 20-Mile Hike merit badge meant far more to me than did others I had earned because it was a discovery of what is possible. I have since learned that “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength”. All but one thing that is…I cannot out-distance His love. After repeatedly passing through impossible circumstances as “more than a conqueror” I am utterly overcome by My Savior’s amazing love and faithfulness. Dearest Father, I am not a wandering exile, You call me by name, You claim me as Your own. I am happily defeated by Your immeasurable love. 8/27/13, 11/25/15, 11/15/18

MY ANCHOR HOLDS

Jesus said: “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find restforyoursouls.” On the oceans of the world an approaching storm can come so fast that there is no way to avoid it. Both Captain and crew are put to a test that can last for days on end. Growing weary in a fight against these unrelenting tempests is a normal part of life on the seas. Exhaustion becomes just ashazardous as the gale itself; making bad decisions increasingly becomes a dangerous potential. Dropping anchor to get some rest can be the only wise course of action. For the child of God there is also rest in the storm that only our Heavenly Father can provide. I must cease from my own works to allow Him to do His Divine Work. The great hymn proclaims: “In every high and stormy gale, My anchor holds within the veil.” Dearest Father, Captain of My Soul, my anchor holds, I am at rest. You are LORD of All.

FULLY PRESENT

We have all been in more than a few early roll calls in elementary school. We listened with only modicum of interest; and once our name was called and acknowledged we lost interest. But as we each learned, there is a huge difference between “physically present” and being “fully present”. The same is true when it comes to the will of God. I can show up to the moment half asleep or half awake. On the Mountain of Transfiguration the disciples were very sleepy and they too slipped into the unconsciousness of deep sleep, but “when they became fully awake they saw his glory.” At times, I slide into a half-present/half-awake consciousness in my spiritual walk as well, only vaguely aware of the divine value of that moment. Holy Lord, AWAKEN me…ALL of me. Let the brightness of Your dawning bathe my soul. May Your Glory fill my life leaving nothing untouched!

ACKNOWLEGED

"In all your ways acknowledge Him." This biblical admonition is not intended to mean that we simply recognize God's existence while continuing in our own ways; it is a command to exchange our ways for His. Acknowledgement of God is not a raw deal or a robbery; it is His generous offer to trade our rickety ways for a much sturdier and dependable model of life. Surrender to doing things God’s way is never a zero sum trade off. In fact, we are the ones that get the best deal ever as we yield to His ways rather than our own! His ways come jam-packed with previously unseen blessings. So it is time to stop merely nodding our heads as we pass by the Master, now we must bend the knee to His ways. Gracious God, grant me Your pardon and deliver me from my own earthly intentions. LORD I acknowledge You.

A RAGING INFERNO

The powerful Santa Ana Winds are what fuel the furious California fires each fall. A fire needs plenty of air to reach its full potential, if ventilation is cut off, the flames die out. The same can be said of anger. While quiet, seething anger is still dangerous, venting our anger openly to others can lead to a raging inferno. Every emotion has a proper place in life, but expressed without the needed controls of God’s Word and Spirit, they become tools of our own destruction. We are scripturally warned to “get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander”; spreading it to others does not get rid of it, it only makes it worse. Like all things, my consternation must be surrendered to the Almighty. LORD, snuff out the embers of rage within my heart. Smother every flame within me that is displeasing to you.

LOVE FILTER

Expressing feelings and opinions comes fairly easily for me, but speaking without necessary restraints is never a good thing. Frankly, I have both wounded and healed with my words. As Proverbs states: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Though I genuinely attempt to use care in what I say, far too often, the wrong things slip through anyway. The phrase “I really shouldn’t say this…” followed by saying it anyway is a fools game. Words guided by wisdom and bathed in love should be the constant way of the child of God. To withhold wisdom can rob someone of a blessing, but to say just anything that comes to mind is never the right path. Father, cleanse my lips, help me speak only what is filtered through love. Purify my heart that my mouth will be a fountain of blessing.

FINISHING WELL

I am not striving to live the best life possible, I am contending to finish well. What a wonderful life I’ve already lived. It is most definitely not perfect nor do I expect it to be, but it has been quite an amazing run. When I survey the blessings, the wonderful people and the mind-blowing opportunities I have been offered in this life I can gratefully say I am at peace. So the issue is no longer “grabbing the brass ring” or concern about what others think; my goal is finishing well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no hurry to finish, it’s just that want to reach the end and be able to declare with confidence the words of the apostle Paul, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” In other words, I want to please “The audience of One”. I hope to one day hear the words, “Well done thou good and faithful servant”. LORD, it is well, it is well, with my soul.

HOLIER-THAN-THOU

The heart that understands the unmerited grace God offers will not fall victim to a superiority complex toward others. If we are still under the delusion that we are blessed because of our moral rectitude or exceptional knowledge, then prideful judgmentalism is assured. Religious arrogance paralyzes spiritual progress and sets us up for a fall. I would like to think I abandoned all sanctimonious tendencies far behind but they still pop up like toast out of a toaster. They are still lurking in my soul, camouflaged as “concern for my brother” or some other pitiful excuse. It is not pleasing to God to for me to deny someone else the mercy and grace on which I so heavily depend. Lord, have mercy on my earthly ways and make me more like You. May my pursuit of piety never produce a holier-than-thou response to others.

PANIC ATTACK

A powerful storm on the lake prompted the disciples to wake Jesus from “sound sleep”. The disciples were in mortal fear, their panic made them feel he didn’t care and their words were infused with foolishness: “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He awoke, spoke peace to the storm “Peace, be still” then asked them: ““Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” The size of our crisis causes no panic on His part; God has no panic attacks, instead, He attacks our panic. Since He is not bound by time nor limited in capacity, He cannot be confounded or set back by earthly turmoil. He is the Eternal Sovereign, the Almighty, the Lord of All and the Lord our Peace. Heavenly Father, Your timing, Your way, Your will, that’s it! My storms are in Your hands; I rest assured in Your Presence.

RIGHTEOUSNESS CONSCIOUSNESS

While standing in line at a checkout, an elderly gentleman motioned to a sleeping infant in a young mother’s arms and asked me: “wouldn’t you love to have a conscious that clear?” It resonated with me because I would love to have a conscious unburdened with the scars of past failures. All of us would. The problem is, innocence cannot be retrieved once lost. Yet for those who come to know the boundless mercy of God and the inexhaustible sufficiency of our redemption, something even more wonderful is revealed; we are granted “righteousness consciousness.” In the divine exchange, our Savior took upon Himself our condemnation and bestowed upon us His right standing. Wow! Most Merciful Father, in Christ alone there is peaceful rest while held in Your transforming arms.

GIVE SPACE

Two words came to mind while in prayer: ”give space.” The Presence of God can occupy space of any size, but His residency may not be recognizable while hidden in the junk pile of an overstuffed life. It is amazing how quickly every last bit of storage area in a drawer, house, office, car or garage fills to the brim. Since we know how easily empty space gets jam-packed with unessential things, we need to sincerely ask ourselves some questions: “How overstuffed is the space in my soul?” “Does the Savior find any room in the inn or is He still stuck out in a manger?” Lord of Light and Life, You own me through and through. I desire to yield every last bit of space in my inward being to You. In Your mercy grant me grace for further housecleaning in my mind, my heart and my calendar.

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, 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 the common channel of mundane spirituality and go deep into the quiet spaces. 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 secret places where Your Glory awaits the seeker and rarified air fills every breath.

OPEN HEART, OPEN HANDS

Proverbs reveals: “There is one who scatters, yet increases more and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty.” Interestingly, generosity is not dependent upon our level of material resources. In fact, it is often the case that the more abundance someone possesses the harder it is to live with open hands. We easily become so focused on managing what we have or don’t have that we forget why God blesses us with abundance in the first place. The key to generous living is to stop calculating the value of the gift by recognizing the value of being a giver. As God’s instruments of blessing we are to be a resource, not a reservoir. Blessed Giver of Life, time, talents and treasure are all gifts from You. Open and cleanse my heart so my hands will not be sticky and that I may give as feely as I have received.

SPIRITUAL WARFARE

Most Christians imagine spiritual warfare to be a matter of battling high-level, diabolical tactics proceeding from a well-designed operational plan launched against us from Satan’s Central Command. While that may well be the case at times, most of my personal warfare emanates from irritating airline schedule changes, overcrowded intersections and disinterested help-desk attendants. In fact, my greatest battles do not proceed from the bowels of hell, but from the unsurrendered back-alleys of my heart. Of course, Satan and his minions are always willing to escort my strolls through the underworld of impatience and presumption, but last time I checked the Bible, they were defeated by Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. Father, again I must confess, though I am Your son, I am still a rookie in many ways. Shine Your transforming Light on my dark moments.

EXHAUSTED RESOURCES

With one astonishing response to an otherwise unremarkable need at the wedding in Cana our Redeemer revealed so much about His will and ways. He revealed that He can turn exhausted resources into abundant overflow in an instant and showed how an ordinary moment can be transformed into a miraculous blessing by simply obeying His commands. He demonstrated that our needs and requests are not ignored, and that He is perfectly willing to do something supernatural in our everyday lives if we ask in faith. Lastly, He made known His inclination to save the very best for last. Blessed LORD, thank You for making it plain to see; exhausted resources set the stage for Your amazing handiwork. Help me embrace Your ways more firmly and obey Your commands more readily.

ALMOST PERFECT

The apostle Peter was so overwhelmed by what was happening on the Mountain of Transfiguration he was willing to forget everything else and just stay there. Almost perfect moments come along in life from time to time.And while pursuing perfection is a laudable quest, it is never a full reality in this world. Absolute perfection will come only at the final manifestation of the Perfect One. We search for it, admire it and occasionally get a glimpse of perfection, only to eventually realize the truth; God is perfect in all His ways, but nothing else or no one else is on this side of Glory. Dear Father, “Author and Perfector of My Faith”, though I am but a wandering exile from true perfection, you confront my shortcomings with mercy. I longingly await the day of perfection when I see You “face to face” and am forever transformed into Your likeness.

KINDNESS

The Bible ranks patience and kindness right at the top of the “love List”: “Love is patient, love is kind.” How often must I be kind? Though past disappointments may still sting within there is no loss in offering authentic kindness to others, even to those who have hurt us. When practiced without ulterior motives we touch for a moment the glory and nature of God. As we know, “God is love.” And since kindness is one of the principle characteristics of love, offering it to others is one of the highest examples of genuine godliness. Even if it is abused or rejected by those to whom it is offered kindness benefits the giver and invites the promised blessing of the Almighty. Father, You are love and You are kind beyond description. Let Your kindness flow through me that I may be closer to You. Make me Your instrument of love to others.

THROW DOWN, INVITE IN

When confronted by God from within a burning bush, Moses the meek shepherd was commanded to throw down his staff. Once cast to the ground, God commanded him to pick it up again. The purpose and trajectory of Moses’ life was about to radically change. He was instantly transformed on that mountainside from a shepherd to the deliverer of the Hebrew people and that simple staff became an instrument of miracles. When Jesus stepped into Peter’s boat, the fisherman’s life and career were revolutionized as he was then sent by the Savior to be a “fisher of men”. What must I throw down today to do His Holy Work? Where in my life must I invite Him to step to invoke His greater calling? Loving Father, You take the ordinary, and turn it into the miraculous. Step where You desire, LORD and take what You must. I am Yours.

IT IS WELL!

“Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul”; poignant words penned by Horatio Spafford as his ship passed the spot in the Atlantic where his four daughters had died in a tragic shipwreck just days before. “It is well” are the words spoken to the prophet by the Shunamite woman, erstwhile her child laid dead at her home. Her son would later be raised from the dead because of the faith driving those words. No one can declare such things while mired in earthly obsessions. These are divinely inspired words, spiritually informed words; faith infused words spoken from consecrated hearts. To proclaim, “It is well” is not a refusal to accept earthly facts, it is to simply to call upon higher realities. Circumstances come and go but God’s goodness and promises never change. My Lord Almighty, Healer of the Broken Hearted, may my lips bear witness to Your Glory and Power.

HOLD POSITION

High-level strategic planning and oversight by military commanders are critical elements to victory, but wars are not won at Central Command, wars are won on the battlefield. While a strong and competent chain of command from headquarters to the frontline is essential, in the final analysis, the battle is won by the foot soldier. Battlefield victory is achieved when each soldier is WHERE they are assigned, WHEN they are scheduled to be there and WITH the preparation, needed resources and commitment to finish the fight. Our orders are clear: “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of civilian life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” LORD You have assigned each of us to our station in this world and armed us for what is ahead. May I be found faithfully holding position and advancing on the enemy as You command.

COLD CUTS

I mostly avoid processed meats, but I still occasionally have an appetite for cold cuts. But I truly loathe the type of “cold cuts” that come from a mean tongue. It seems that many people feel a right, in fact, a fiendish need to verbally shrink the value of someone else to feel better about themselves. How sad. It is a temptation every human struggles with from time to time but for some people tearing down others is their normal way of dealing with issues of self-worth and value. The cure for this state of mind is found in the words of the apostle Paul: “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things.” This is painfully simple. LORD, grant me the humility and kindness of my Savior. Place Your coal of fire in my heart and upon my lips and make my mind and my mouth a fountain of blessings not curses. 9/20/17, 10/25/18

DIVINE SURVEILLANCE

Everywhere we are in the modern world we are being surveilled by cameras, electronic devices, computer algorithms and the like. But more importantly, our ways are in full view of the LORD; this is both comforting and discomforting at once. I am blessed to know that God cares and monitors every step, yet I feel the constant struggle of complete surrender to His ways. Yet knowing my Heavenly Father’s motives are absolutely pure and mine are not, the choice is uncomplicated: not my ways, but His ways alone must prevail. So there it is. I cannot coast along on yesterday’s victories, nor will I dwell on yesterday’s losses. Father, I depend upon Your mercy and welcome Your Divine Surveillance. I will attend to Your promptings today afresh. I desire to fully yield control to Your will and ways. Lord, in Your mercy, make it so.

A FIRST CLASS BRIAR PATCH

On a recent walk through the woods a few steps off the beaten path thrust me into a first class briar patch. This was no low-grade sticker bush; this was head to toe entrapment. Every attempt to pull away became another round of entanglement. Stepping into quarrels can feel the same. I immediately want to stop the hurting but every poorly executed move away from the discomfort sticks me with even more. It is in these moments when only full surrender to God can deliver us, His wisdom being the only safe exit. It is no wonder why James instructed: “It is to one’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel.” Oh Lord My Guide; I earnestly seek Your Wisdom. Help me steer clear of treacherous mockers and keep my heart free of offenses. Bathe my soul with Your liberating Love.

THE STRANGER BOX

Moses declared: “For the Lord your God is mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality…He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger…” Our human tendency is to classify people into “us” and “them”; the more different they are the greater our impulse to dehumanize them, casting them aside with egocentric, self-justification. We just drop them in the “Stranger Box”. This leads to ungodly hatred. The ironic thing is, every single one of us is in someone else’s stranger box. The child of God must behave as our Father in Heaven, loving without discrimination. He can judge righteously for He loves righteously. LORD God, Your ways are wonderful. You love perfectly. You judge justly yet with mercy. Open my eyes and heart to Your ways and use me as an instrument of Your love.

KINGDOM COMRADES

I genuinely appreciate the depths of alliance and devotion that is formed while under fire. Relationships forged in the “furnace of much affliction” gain an inner strength like tempered metal. Surface disputes may remain, but inwardly, a code is formed and covenant is knitted deeply into the heart. I never had the privilege to serve in the military but I feel much more in common with those who climbed Normandy’s Cliffs, slogged through the Mekong Delta or bore the dust and heat in Desert Storm than with those who only accept convenient truths and shallow devotion. Proverbs unveils the beauty of brotherhood: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a difficult time,” and “A man with many friends can still be ruined, but a true friend sticks closer than a brother”. Lord, grant me a warrior’s heart. Free me from temporal entanglements and bind my heart to Kingdom Comrades.

GOD'S HOLY GRIP

Raising multiple children informs parents of how dangerous life can be. For example, normally mundane parking lots are transformed into minefields of danger when there are small children onboard. Every stop begins with a stern reminder of the rules of disembarkation. It begins: “Wait right there, Daddy will open your door.” And the supreme rule: “Hold Daddy’s hand all the way.” And since my walk of faith is no different I am well acquainted with God’s Holy Grip. When I press in it is gentle, soft but firm. In moments when I am being pulled away, or straining against it, I feel His Divine Grasp tightening. There are startling moments of feet dangling over a precipice, yet I am still held firmly in the Savior’s clutch. And frankly He still will not permit me to open my own doors. Father, thank You for Your Mighty Hand. You uphold, guide, prod, restrain and comfort me. LORD, help me to firmly take hold of You.

NUDGES FROM ON HIGH

While it is absolutely true that the Holy Spirit is our Comforter, God’s comforting nearly always includes making me uncomfortable. Since complacency is my constant nemesis, thankfully, His love continually prods and cajoles me to move forward. Like the lame man at the Well of Bethesda, I sometimes camp out on the edge of hope but feel incapable of moving when the water is stirred. That is when the Holy Spirit, the wonderful “Hound of Heaven” nudges, convicts, prompts and pushes me forward. Herein lies a fundamental spiritual principle: convenience or loafing is rarely the path to spiritual growth. Father, thankfully, Your love propels me ahead. I welcome Your holy nudges, even when it is bothersome and interrupts my complacent tendencies. Help me stand to my feet and walk forward in faith.

UNWASHED HANDS

As surely as eating with unwashed hands can lead to sickness, over-exposure to irreverent unbelief leaves us susceptible to infection within our soul. Unfiltered pursuits and constant self-indulgence belong to the perishing, but wisdom and discernment are provided to the God-seeker. The powerful force of a sold-out commitment and a surrendered will furnishes us with protection from both external and internal corruption. Like guardrails along a cliff-side highway, the disciplines of stewardship and faithfulness create a safety barrier against meandering into spiritual danger and falling away. Isaiah wrote: “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” O Lord My Protector, grant Your Wisdom this day. Guard my heart and actions with Your Wo…

SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY

It is possible to lose a battle but win the war. I have watched loved ones slip into eternity surrounded by friends, family and medical professionals fighting with all their might to keep them on this side of the veil. It seems like a tragic loss at that moment for sure, but for the faithful, this is not the end, only a turning of the page. Battles for success in marriages, friendships, businesses, ministries and every other worthy pursuit can end in what appears to be sure defeat. But for the child of God, what appears as failure is never the end of the story. The LORD turns every defeat into wins for those who live in surrender to Him. Holy Father, I am so thankful for those holy moments in which loss is “swallowed up in victory”. You truly work “everything for good” as we live in Your love and pursue our divine purpose. You shelter our souls and turn our mourning into joyful dancing!

BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE

With the Red Sea ahead, the dust-filled sky above and Pharaoh’s army in hot pursuit God’s counsel to the fleeing Hebrews seemed impossible to take seriously, “Do not be afraid, the Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.” Seriously? Be still? Every human instinct is to try to mitigate circumstances such as this by every means possible. Yet, when all our efforts fail we are still not without recourse; as it turned out, God opened the Red Sea for the Hebrews but closed it upon the pursuing Egyptians. When we find ourselves between a rock and a hard place it is time to climb to a higher place. In another encounter God said to Moses: “I will put you in the cleft of therock, and will cover you with My hand.” The Psalmist penned a beautiful insight in his prayer, “Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to You. When my heart is overwhelmed lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the ene…

THAT SWEET SPOT

In sports, the “Sweet Spot” is the point or area on a bat, club, racket or foot at which it makes most effective contact with the ball. There are also “Sweet Spots” in life and faith. Jesus said: “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.” In simple terms we must begin our journey of faith with innocent curiosity, humility, happy heartedness, trust and willingness to believe. But childlikeness must be limited to our approach to God, not in our lifelong behavior before others. The Apostle Paul clarifies this as he states: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things” and later: “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus”. So I must remain in this holy tension between childlikeness with God and maturity among mankind. No excuses. Glorious Father, lead me to that “Sw…

MIRROR, MIRROR

As a child it was fascinating to stare into mirrors, each reflection revealing details I previously missed. I soon learned that the quality of the mirror and lighting made a huge impact on what I saw. As I’ve aged this experience has grown increasingly less pleasant, so I now prefer dim reflections. When it comes to the inner man the opposite has occurred. Having paid the price of human deceptions, I yearn for authenticity within, no matter the consequences. We read from James: “If anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.” Staring into the lighted mirror of God’s Word daily is the best guarantee of seeing who I am and how I look. Lord of Truth and Light, while there is pain in the discovery, I want the transforming power of truth to transform my falsehood into Your image.

WHILE I WAS SLEEPING

Spiritual immaturity seems to have no bounds, like a creaking door with rusty hinges 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 unkindness can vex my soul. Though it was just a dream with no enduring consequences, I prayed upon awakening. I do not want bad will toward others free-ranging throughout my heart. LORD, may the devious snares of darkness be undone and his instruments of evil be snatched away. I seek Your mercy that the stumbling blocks of self-centered belligerence will be permanently removed. Lord, my need for Your saving grace is constant. I awake yearning for the gentleness, forgiveness and maturing power of Your Fatherly love.

SEEING THE UNSEEABLE

Technology continues to improve mankind’s ability to see what was formerly unseeable. Pilots can fly in clouds and still navigate safely, astronomers peer deeper and deeper into space and geologists see into the depths of the earth. 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 and guidance. 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; His Spirit and Word ripping away our blindness, causing us to see as He sees, to know as He knows! Lord I safely advance in Your Loving Care and Unlimited Wisdom.

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES

Life is jam-packed with opportunities to grow. There is so much that can be learned and such an abundance of pathways to information, but seeking greater understanding is useless if we are never able to acknowledge truth. In 2 Timothy 3:7 we see a tragic description of many knowledge seekers: “always learning and never coming to the knowledge of the truth”. Only God can reveal truth; a life devoid of it has no safe boundaries or godly direction. Truth requires no second opinions, additional alternatives or modifications. Once encountered, truth must be embraced and put it into practice. We are either transformed by it or suffer the consequences of ignoring it. Lord God, You alone are the Fountain of Truth. Grant me increased grace to seek and find the truth. I confess my human ignorance but believe as Your Word proclaims that I “have the mind of Christ” and joyfully await Your divine instructions.

DIVINE ARCHITECTURE

God designs and imprints each person’s individuality, however, autonomy is not a part of the divine architecture. Our necessary dependence upon God and subsequent interdependence with others is wired-in at the deepest level of our being. While it is true that I can build towering walls around my heart, pull in the drawbridge and consider all others intruders, to do so is to condemn myself to a self-imposed prison where I would remain in solitary confinement. More importantly, in that condition I would cease to fulfill my eternal purpose and the voice of God to me and through me to others would be silenced. Lord of Liberty and Purpose, You Alone are my Shield and Strength, my High Tower and Protector. Forgive my useless efforts to go it alone and provoke my heart to openness and love.

BEYOND LIMITS

Flying over the Sahara Desert, the world’s largest at 3.3 million square miles is an amazing and daunting sight. It seems to go on forever, but every desert has its boundaries, every ocean has its shores and every storm its finish. Likewise, every trial we experience in this life has its limits and no adversity can go on forever.While trudging though it may feel like difficulties are limitless but they cannot go on forever, nor can they extend beyond God’s sovereign authority.God’s love and provision are eternal and inexhaustible, carrying us through even the most extensive wasteland, taking us beyond limits “on eagle’s wings”. He accompanies us through each moment of every trial and the rewards of trust and faithfulness are both ever-present never-ending. In Hannah’s prayer of thankfulness for God granting her a son she cries out: “It is not by strength that one prevails”. The psalmist proclaims: “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.” Father…

CONNECTING THE DOTS

In Galatians we learn, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” This is not that complicated; if I plant an orange seed I get an orange tree, if I sow love I get a harvest of love. I have never been a big fan of connect-the-dots puzzles, but refusal to connect-the dots in life can be very costly. What I do today has both benefits and consequences in the future, whether I later see the connection or not. After a lifetime of counseling people through difficulties I conclude, the human capacity to disassociate one thing from another is stunning and dangerous. Otherwise bright people will foolishly refuse to connect the obvious. When desire is enflamed, truth can easily be ignored. Gracious Father, help me see through the confusion selfishness activates. Awaken good discernment within me and lead me in the way of life.

TWO STICKS OF LOVE

“Thy rod and Thy Staff they comfort me”. David’s words ring true to my heart; These two ordinary instruments of shepherding are sticks of love.  The Lord deals straightforwardly with my weaknesses, treating me as a son who requires His discipline yet bearing no grudges against my many failings.Though we each stray from the boundaries of His will at times, He never grows weary of searching for his wandering lambs. When I scamper away from His Presence, He always finds me wherever I’ve roamed. His rod of discipline is rightfully applied, but it never done in disgust or as we rightfully deserve; rather, it is always dispatched justly and delivered in His perfect love. When I stray into danger, He lifts me to safety with His staff and does not abandon me, as I deserve. Selah. O Lord My Great Shepherd and Keeper, hallowed be Your Name! Deliver me from earthly obsessions and draw me near to Your side. Grant me grace to take hold of all You have commanded and to live accordingly.

THIS PILGRIM'S PROGRESS

John Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim's Progress from This World, to That Which Is to Come” is an allegory written while he was imprisoned for his Christian beliefs. Until we reach the Golden Gates of Heaven we must progress in our walk of faith here on earth. Each time I think I understand God’s ways and means He turns the diamond and new facets of His splendor emerge. For the true believer there is no spiking the ball in the end zone on this side of Glory; there is no settling down where we are in this life. Not only am I tolerant of this constantly changing status, I am genuinely thankful for it. I am being pulled toward eternal purpose that I cannot fathom but I instinctively know awaits me. So I’ll keep my shoes on until it’s over. Lord, though I struggle in Your arms, You never let me go. Keep me moving toward Your perfect will. Help me never miss a turn or stop unnecessarily. Keep me progressing toward Your perfect will.