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Showing posts from February, 2018

THE STAGE

To openly live a life of faith is not a proclamation of personal perfection. In fact, the opposite is true. To reveal myself as a person of faith is to open the curtain and turn on the lights; my imperfections become the stage upon which the amazing grace and relentless love of God are displayed for all to see. In my weakness, His awesome strength is discovered and brought to the forefront. Glossing over our foibles presents a false image of the believer’s life and in the end does more harm than good. Lord, You are my Fortress and Deliverer, reveal Yourself in me. May my failings spotlight Your exquisiteness. May my need for constant redemption encourage others to seek the same.

FORCED MARCH

There are times when I feel like I am on a forced march through barren desert. While many trials are pretty common and experienced by practically everyone, sometimes our journey can feel like a private purgatory. God’s desire for me to be more like Him requires that I traverse difficult pathways. Biblical prophets passed through the desert, the Hebrews marched the sands of the Sinai; even the Savior was “led by the Spirit into the wilderness”. A protracted, severe trial is a pristine environment for both faith and faithfulness to flourish. Lord, I am willing to walk this way when You desire it. Strengthen me that I may walk the distance. Provoke me to remember others as they too pass this way. In Your mercy, make greater faith and faithfulness my reward.

ONE MIRACULOUS CHAIR

The biblical descriptions of The Heavenly City paint a picture of an amazing place. Every aspect of it is beyond comprehension, but nothing more so than a single chair at its core. There resides a throne where but One may be seated yet it is equally the place where millions upon millions abide. It is a mind-bending riddle for sure, but the answer lies in a powerful passage: “...and raised us up with Him, and made us to sit with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus”. There, the Eternal One is enthroned. There, every knee shall bow. There, the Redeemed dwell with the Redeemer! So, I guess you CAN be in two places at one time! LORD Of All, Your wonders never cease! Open my mind and heart to these heavenly realities that I may faithfully and effectively reflect Your Glory here on earth.

IN PLACE

The heavy veil of darkness will soon be driven away as daybreak unfurls. As a sail catching the wind, my soul now fills with the rising winds of a new day. I am prepared to weigh anchor and head to my designated course, but only under full direction of the Captain. Hope in God is the “Anchor of My Soul”. He does not HOLD ME BACK, He holds me IN PLACE, until I am to move to the “THE PLACE” of His choosing. I dare not choose my own ways over His, my failures at self-navigation are far too many. No, I choose to serve at the will and beckon call of my Creator, Sustainer and Guide. Lord God, King of the Universe, I commit all my ways to you today for You are wise beyond all wisdom, merciful without prejudice, generous in all things and perfect in all Your ways.

CHAOS CURED

Chaos seems to be standard equipment for human relationships. We most often make things far more difficult than necessary; quickly jumping to conclusions or projecting motives on others unfairly, while failing to seriously examine our own. There is a place of rest God can provide in every life circumstance where we can breathe, listen, receive divine instruction, be empowered and have peace while doing so. Final outcomes must be submitted to God beforehand to have a peaceful journey to them. “LORD of All” means just that. “Servant of God” means just that. Chaos does not flourish in an environment of truth and love. Father, Your Power gives life where there is death, Your Presence is chaos cured.

PURIFYING LOVE

God’s divine love is pure, not polluted with mixed motives; it is not only pure, it is purifying. Human love on the other hand is filtered through a swamp of self-centeredness, allowing only a trickle of God’s love to flow through us to others. Divine love is an incredible motivator that activates a host of godly attributes He deigned us to operate in. As I welcome His love it ignites a purification process in me that releases His love to flow more freely from me to the world around me. Ephesians commands: “Walk in love”. The key to walking in love is learning to love others through God’s perfect love instead of our own. Father, I desire Your purifying love to surge through me to like a raging flood. Sanctify my motives and wash away the obstacles of pride and selfishness within my heart.

ALL THINGS

Here I am again on the precipice of a new day. As I prepare for what is ahead I am acutely aware that good things are on the horizon, but still I face many difficult things right now. Scripture states: “all things work together for good to those who love God”. All things? Yes, even bad things, scary things, confusing things. I don’t need to understand all things, I must trust He is working and cooperate with His ways and means. This I know, God is good…in ALL things, at ALL times. So, I plod ahead, trusting the future is safely in the Almighty’s hands. Father, I acknowledge the limitations of earthly ways, but take courage from Your awesome perfection. I can do all things through Your strength. In all things I am more than a conqueror because of Your unrelenting love.

DAY BY DAY

Transformational change requires more than simply wishing for it. Ultimately, spiritual transformation is a work of God’s grace but we each play a vital role in the change process. I must learn to take direct, prompt action, yet remain willing to be halted any moment by the very One who commanded me to move ahead. “Wait for it”…“wait for it”…“okay, now!”; this is the rhythm of the spirit-guided life. Like manna in the wilderness, lessons are present each day to be taken. And also like manna, yesterday’s gathered provisions are not for tomorrow, they must be gathered each and every day afresh.  No cheating allowed. Lord, I thank You for Your holy work in me. I do not resent Your pace or doubt Your choices.

MY SPIRITUAL NEMESIS

A TV commercial during last night’s Olympic coverage lauded the value of international travel with this incentive: “We see ourselves in one another”.  Nice idea. And while I believe in the enriching value of exposure to different languages and cultures, the words: “We see ourselves” as the motivation hit me like a ton of bricks. It is so absolutely true that people are constantly looking for themselves, as if self-discovery is the highest standard of value. How sad. Actually, self-importance has been my spiritual nemesis! Selfishness is bondage, dying to self is freedom. Denying the self-centered life is a necessary component of the blessed life, and losing sight of self is the pathway to true love, true purpose and true joy. LORD, have mercy upon us and forgive our selfish ways.

TRUE LOVE

True love requires extensive study; seeking to understand is a hallmark of genuine love. A mother loves her child for many reasons, but one powerful source of her deep love is that she studies her child. Her intense desire to understand this tiny new person in her arms requires more than a mere glance or passive ear. Profound love requires intense concentration. If I want to dismiss people or even hate them I can choose ignorance; placing them in a category of people I don’t like, determining to learn nothing about them. God never does that. Instead, His Eye is constantly upon us, His ears attuned to our slightest whimper. And as Father of All, He requires that we, as his children, seek to understand the other objects of His love. Lord increase my love for You and for all Your children.

GARBAGE PICK-UP DAY

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

BIG MOUTH

Sometimes I feel like an observer as I listen to myself speak. At times, words overloaded with emotion and selfishness tumble out, yet at other times, I hear God speaking. Our Creator places a powerful instrument on the front of our faces. The mouth can be a big fountain of blessing and encouragement or a huge, spirit-crushing hammer. The tongue of the wise spreads wisdom and life, but the mouth of the simpleton foolishly spews destruction. Wielding such enormous power, I must be circumspect how I use my mouth, as a Big Benefactor or a Big Brute? Blessed Father, help me speak only life, never death. Purify my heart and mind so only truth-empowered love exits my lips. Holy Spirit, govern me, guide me, and use me.

RIGHTLY ROOTED

A trip to East Texas a few years ago was both surprising and sad as I looked out the window of the commuter plane; in place of the hilly, green vistas I normally saw, drought and an unrelenting heat wave was killing tens of thousands of trees. As we passed over, I noticed around a large lake that the trees stood tall and green, even those growing a relatively long distance from the shoreline; their roots provided salvation. The biblical promise to all who delight in God’s Word comes to mind: “He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water.” Often our human condition in this world seems barren and all around us is perishing, but we can flourish if rooted in Him. Father, You lead me beside still waters, Your Word nourishes my soul, Your Spirit continually pours forth life and peace.

AUTHORIZED INTERRUPTION

Another day is at hand. Family, work, sick friends, urgent needs, the future, world news, weather, past mistakes, car needs a wash; my mind is already racing down the straightaway at full throttle. The human soul can be more crowded than the Los Angeles freeway. King David found it necessary to command his own soul to “Bless the Lord.” Seeking God the first thing in the morning and listening to His voice throughout the day lifts the anxiety of constant pressures and sets my heart on the right path. Father, infiltrate every thought that passes through my mind today. LORD, I am Your child and servant, Father, You are the authorized interruption in every moment. May Your Presence percolate through me without restriction.

STUMBLING STEPS

While living in the Andes Mountains our family would often camp just below the snow line on Cotopoxi, an Ecuadorian volcanic mountain of over 19,000 feet. The air was thin and there was no artificial light anywhere in sight, so the nights were ink black. It is difficult and perilous to walk on steep, uneven ground shrouded in the black of night, but this is how it often feels in this world for the person trudging the “narrow way”. Natural abilities and brainpower are incapable of safely navigating us through spiritual darkness. Thankfully, we are never alone in this journey. Father of Light, I would fall into the abyss were it not for your tender care and guiding hand. Shine upon my stumbling steps. True Light of My Eyes and Heart, guide me to Your perfect will.

LIP LOCK

Each of us has been falsely maligned at one time or another. It is equally true that each of us has wrongly judged others, and then let our fraudulent appraisals spill from our lips. Knowing how damaging and painful false judgments can be we must take great care in forming or sharing our opinions before our thoughts have been bathed in love and truth. The moment we vocalize our unfiltered assessments to those around us our misjudgments become malicious and dangerous. It is foolish to carelessly say whatever we think; loose talk starts wars and destroys relationships. Glorious God, forgive my indiscretions and brutish ways. Cleanse my mind of vain imaginations and lock my lips with wisdom and discretion.

CALLED ASIDE

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

IRON SHARPENS IRON

One of life’s hard-learned realities is that human interaction is characteristically confrontational. So it should be no surprise that at some point every relationship challenges imbedded selfishness, fears or other hidden issues within our souls. The biblical maxim is true: “Iron sharpens Iron.” However, reacting negatively to the sharpening process will only guarantee it will last much longer than necessary. Confrontation without ensuing bitterness is one of life’s greatest gifts; providing a powerful, regenerative and transformative force of good that will last for a lifetime. Lord, You are the Potter; I am the clay. Make and mold me into the man that pleases you. Thank you for those whom You use to help shape me.

NO ERASE BUTTON

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

EARLY MORNING BRIEFING

The human mind is naturally governed by perceptions, needs, feelings, circumstances, desires and fears. It is perfectly normal to be hostile to trusting in the unseen. The concept of a sovereign, caring and attentive Shepherd of our souls is appealing, but my mind, habits and heart must be trained to live under a new order of life, giving first place to the Lordship and Authority of God. Understanding the true situation is a critical first step: He is Lord; I am not. He knows what I do not. So each day must begin with an early morning briefing with the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. Lord of All…You first. I submit this day to Your plans and cast my concerns before You. Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I. It is well with my soul.

PAINFUL SNARLS

As a young man I was driving along when an Irish Setter ran into the street from between two parked cars. I didn’t see him quickly enough to avoid contact but I hit the brakes hard and fast. I leaped out to check and he was under my van; not seriously hurt but dazed and confused. I reached toward him to comfort him and he and snarled, crawled from underneath and ran away. His refusal of help was not personal; he reacted from his pain and confusion. People will often do the same. It can be brutal, but in these moments genuine love is authenticated. Father, forgive my snarling resistances to Your loving touch. When others react to me as I have to You please grant me the same patient mercy for them You always extend to me.

THE PERFECT LIFE

There are plenty of things about so many people that I deeply admire and would like to emulate in one-way or another. But I do not want to be a copy of someone else since God made me for His purposes according to His plan for my life. I do however want to be the best version of what God created me to be. To admire others is actually a form of praise of God since the best character qualities of the created ones emanate from the Creator Himself. But he LORD Almighty designed each of us for His divine purpose for us. I cannot fulfill that purpose while chasing after someone else’s life. Every fantasy envisioning of “the perfect life” must be surrendered to the Perfect One. LORD God, I want to live the perfect life, that is, the life You designed for me. Grant me grace this day to be that man.

DEPOSITS AND WITHDRAWALS

The many rivers in the city in “the city by the sea” where I’ve lived most of my life are tidal. Each day they rise and fall, widen and narrow, providing a constantly changing panorama. Every tidal cycle quietly deposits new debris on their banks and lifts away what had been previously dropped by. In many ways, my whole life is tidal. People come and go, problems and blessings arrive unannounced, then slip away, interesting surprises float by and it is all leading to a point I cannot see beyond the horizon. God of All Creation, You never cease depositing, withdrawing and leading me forward. I love Your wonderful and mysterious ways Sweet Lord.

LEASHED TO HIS HAND

While I prefer to think of myself as strong and steady in my pursuit of God’s will and ways, the reality is I am fairly easily distracted. Like a curious dog being walked on a leash, passing interests cause me to pull against the safety and needed guidance His handhold provides. I do not resent the Lord’s firm grip, but in moments of preoccupation with temporary emotional interests I forget at times that I’m not just being taken for for a stroll, He is actually taking me somewhere He wants me to be. So I must again begin a new day reminding myself to yield to the Master’s slightest touch. Glorious God and Father, bind me to Your guiding Presence and Purpose. Lead me in the way of everlasting. I’m thankful for Your steady grip.

HOW FAR?

How high must I climb to be healed? How wide is the chasm between my transgressions and God’s forgiveness? What distance must I traverse to ascend to the heights of heaven’s treasures? The rewards of each of these quests appear far away, however, they are much closer than we can humanly conceive. The ascent to my healing is merely the length from pierced feet to a crown of thorns. The journey from my sin to redemption is only the distance between a nail in each of my Savior’s hands. The first step is as close as a drop to my knees. Holy Redeemer, my mind struggles with the simplicity of Your grace. Blessed Redeemer, grant me childlike humility to believe what You have accomplished without equivocation or dispute.

THE WAIT

The psalmist proclaims: “Wait on the LORD”. A recently acquired indoor herb garden is re-teaching me this lesson. While dropping seeds into the soil there is always anticipation of a future harvest. Roots slowly emerge and begin their descent, digging their way through the soil. This process takes time and it all occurs underground for a while and remains unseen. Above ground, there can be disappointment at the lengthy process, especially for the novice. Much of what we do as people of faith requires sowing, weeding, fertilizing and waiting. Disappointment with the pace often discourages further sowing. Lord of the Harvest, keep me calm and steady in the delays. Harvest is safely in Your trusted Hand. I wait with delight and joy.

THIS DAY

A new day, this day, offers another shot walking in obedience to the will of God. Complications, diversions and agitations are always present, but the chance to serve God this day will never return again, it must be taken now. As compelling as distractions may be, I must push them aside and run toward the roar. I will seize the day by passionately pursuing the opportunities God presents. I will not permit fears, disappointments or carnal-longings to hold me back. This is the day the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it! Dear Father, deliver me from disorientation and direct my steps. In Your Mercy, release fresh fire and divine focus to my heart. I delight to do Your will O God…this day.

A TWINKLING OF SOUL SURRENDER

One glance upward into a clear, starry night immediately puts things into perspective; both our troubles and achievements, no matter how colossal, are minuscule in comparison. David wrote: “The heavens proclaim the glory of God”. While engulfed in the daily grind true perspective can be easily lost. I must remind myself throughout each day to take regular glances toward the heavens in prayerful thought and praise of the Almighty. Even a mere moment in meditation of God’s promises or a twinkling of soulful surrender to His will and ways lifts my heart to the heights. Majestic LORD, King of the Universe, to You be praise in all things! Grant divine perspective to my daily march as I turn my eyes toward You and make me a shining light to others.