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HAPPY FRESH START!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. HAPPY NEW YEAR, HAPPY NEW DAY, HAPPY NEW FUTURE! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV). God has already stocked this new beginning with valuable lessons, previously unseen opportunities, unique challenges, unexpected blessings, Life-changing experiences, and spiritual insights. Today is the day to leave failures behind, unforgiveness in the dust and to firmly embrace redeeming grace and new vision from God. And what of the dangers of the past creeping forward into this new year? No worries, He’s got this: “The Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard,” Isaiah 52:8 (ESV). Today You have provided a unique and powerful pathway to a higher life, divinely orchestrated from beginning to end. Hallelujah!! I will lift up my eyes to You.

I STAND THE WATCH

“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends,” John 15:13 ESV. “For twenty years, This sailor has stood the watch, While some of us were in our bunks at night, This sailor stood the watch,” (1stfour verses of a 23-verse poem called “THE WATCH”). Quite a few times I have heard, and or read with tears this most moving poem called “The Watch”. I have never served in the U.S. military nor as a first responder, but I have a deep, lifelong love and respect for those who have. I’ve never patrolled a dark street in a rough neighborhood as a police officer, nor have I run into a burning building to save a stranger as our brave first responders do every day. Instead, I have stood the watch over the souls of family, friends and tens of thousands of strangers throughout the world. Now I fight each day for the rights of the Jewish people to have a biblically promised homeland. God places us in this life with a mission of His design. It sometimes seems noble, a…

I SEE YOU

“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him,” 2 Chronicles 16:9 KJV. In the James Cameron movie “Avatar” the phrase “I see you” is used to describe seeing someone’s true essence. It was to acknowledge their value and expressed a deep love for that person. This type of love is beautifully revealed in the biblical story of Hagar. In her darkest moment, the LORD came to her and showed her His love. Hagar coined another name for Yahweh that day when she called Him: “EL ROI”, which means: “You are theGodwho seesme”. She boldly proclaimed: “I have now seen the One who sees me”. We can easily feel alone, misunderstood, maligned and abandoned by others. Unrequited love is deeply painful, but one thing we can know for certain, God IS love and He will always declare: “I see You!” O LORD, EL ROI, I am swept into unspeakable joy by Your perfect love.

HIDDEN TREASURES

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,” 2 Peter 1:3 ESV. Jerusalem is one of the world’s most ancient cities. Thousands of years of building and rebuilding have left its oldest sections buried deep underground. Constant excavations guarantee that new treasures are found daily by those who seek them. Each unearthed artifact leads to a greater understanding of the city’s true character. The work of God’s Word and Spirit has the same effect within us. He exposes and removes the rubble and refuse of the past and surfaces hidden treasures that He previously implanted. These divine attributes are designed for God’s purpose for each of His children. Lord God expose every part of my heart to Your Light and use me for Your Glory.

HOLY HUGS

“And He took them in His armsand blessed them, laying his hands on them,” Mark 10:16 (ESV). Jesus didn’t show anger much, but he was openly “indignant” when the disciples deprived parents of bringing children and having Jesus ”touch them”. I get it. One of the constant blessings of my life is giving and receiving so many hugs. Family hugs, friendship hugs, makeup hugs, sad hugs, happy hugs, last hugs. They each contain a unique blessing. The love of others gives me great joy and encouragement and activates the love of God within me. Little arms, huge arms, soft touches, warm embraces, shoulder squeezes, they nourish my soul. The bible speaks of God’s “everlasting arms”. That I may be used by Him to comfort and bless one of His children of any size or age is an enormous blessing to me. Lord, my arms are Yours, may I again be Your hands extended this very day.

AUTHENTICITY

“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,” 1 Corinthians 13:11 ESV. As a child, I did not mind playing alone. I would simply dream-up elaborate scenarios filled with interesting things to do and I, of course, was the central figure in all these imagined adventures. Pretending is an essential pathway to learning and development for children, but it is a passageway to self-deception for adults. Imagination and creativity have lifelong value but to masquerade as something we are not is nothing more than falsehood and can lead to many serious problems. As I have matured in life, seamlessness between who I want to be and who I actually am has become more crucial. Heavenly Father may Your maturing work in me produce increasing authenticity. Help me not gloss over weaknesses and deliver me from cover-ups.

WHOLE AGAIN

My brother-In-Law, Jack McCall, Sharon’s only sibling, passed away today after a long battle with cancer. Now he is now whole again and in the presence of his Redeemer. I’ve known Jack for 48 years. He loved to sing in churches and did so as often as he could. Jack has now joined the biggest and best choir ever! I’m sad, yet joyful. Please pray for Sharon’s mom Bettie, Jack’s wife Cheryl, his children and grandchildren, and My Sharon. We’ll see you again my brother.

O NIGHT DIVINE

“For unto us a child is born, unto us, a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulders and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,” Isaiah 9:6 ESV. 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 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, laugh…

LEAK PATROL

"So, whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin," James 5:14 ESV. The temptation to compromise is constant. While most sincere believers hold the line on the big issues it is easy to make concessions on smaller things. We can be spirit-filled but leaking. Those who manage dams do not take cracks lightly. Leaks do not self-repair so they must be addressed, or they will only worsen. The same can be said of the soul. When life’s pressures build even the most spirit-filled heart can be drained. I must consistently seek fresh infilling and simultaneously take care of issues that siphon away God’s Presence. No one else can guard my heart; I must take personal responsibility to remain filled. Glorious Father open the windows of heaven afresh. Grant me wisdom to recognize and attend to things that deplete my heart of Your Glory and Presence.

PANIC ATTACK

“He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?’ Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm,” Matthew 8:26 ESV. A powerful storm on the lake prompted the disciples to awaken Jesus from his well-deserved nap. 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?” Jesus’ response to the disciples? “Why are you so afraid? Do you STILL have no faith?” Mark 4:40 NIV. The size of our crisis causes no panic in Heaven. Instead, God attacks the source of our panic. Faith in the perfect Love of God delivers us from all terror. Heavenly Father, Your timing, Your way, Your will, that’s it! My storms are in Your hands so I rest assured in Your Presence. You are my solid rock!

GLORY TO GOD

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men,” Luke 2:14 KJV. The second chapter of Luke is fully loaded! There are praising angels, an angelic choir, wandering shepherds…you know the story. What a happy and heart moving scene! In this verse above a wonderful and eternal principle is revealed: Giving glory to God brings peace and goodwill toward others in the earth. Openly worshipping the God of Heaven and Earth creates an environment of goodwill and peace any place within His creation. Genuine praise of The LORD of All invites heavenly blessing to wherever you are, even as you are circling the lot for the third time, searching for a parking place, as you wait for a table, stand in line at the cashier or sit in Christmas traffic. LORD, I pray that You open our hearts and let us see past the mayhem and noise. May my life reveal the peace that only You can bring.

AN ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God,“who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty,”Revelation 1:8 ESV. Like grains of sand slipping through the hourglass, each moment of life moves quickly into the past. I sometimes feel the sting of past mistakes, missed opportunities, and bad choices. But once I regain my bearings and remember that I’m God’s child, I remember that nothing is beyond the grasp of my Redeemer. An eternal perspective rotates the impulse of our lives; instead of dwelling on the past, we are pulled forward into an unlimited future filled with hope. An eternal perspective opens our heart and unlocks faith, making the psalmist’s proclamation becomes our own: “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it,” Psalm 118:24 ESV. Those things left behind in the process become a footnote as eternal purpose unfolds to us. Eternal Father, I joyfully move forward.

OTHERS MAY, I MAY NOT

“As obedient children do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” I Peter 1:14-16 NIV. Learning to turn away from appealing but short-lived gratification is a process. We tend to think of holiness as a rules-based form of living, but it’s not so much what we do or not do, holiness is sensitivity and obedience to God’s voice. It is primarily inward, not outward. I began to grumble how unfair it seemed that many others around me appeared to be less restricted than I. As I questioned the Lord I heard Him speak clearly in my heart: “Others may, you may not.” I said out loud with sarcastic indignation: “That’s it? Others may, I may not?!!” Silence. His answer required no further explanation. Father, you discipline the ones You love. Forgive my contemptuous hubris; Your high call requires my very best. Period.

UNWASHED HANDS

“Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you.” 2 Corinthians 6:17 NKJV. 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. No need to run for the hills, 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. O Lord My Protector grant Your Wisdom this day. Guard my heart and actions with Your Word and Spirit. Make me a constant source of life for others.

THE HOLY SPIRIT

“An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit,’” Matthew 1:20 NIV. While the clear focus of this passage is the miracle of all miracles, there is even more. The words “what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” have an amazing Truth embedded within them; The Holy Spirit can “conceive” things within us. A “seed of truth” can clarify our individual calling. A moment of Spirit-conceived revelation can saturate and guide our soul in ways nothing else on this earth can. While “The Word” is the foundation upon which we must build our lives, “The Holy Spirit” is the on-site Project Manager that helps assure that we build according to the specifications God has set. Blessed Father, Son, and Holy Spirit guide my heart and actions this day as You will.

THE WORD

“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Luke 1:45 ESV. This simple statement from Elizabeth to Mary is loaded with truth! Blessing comes to anyone who believes the promises God speaks. In this case, Mary heard what He had spoken, she believed His promise in her heart and later, she saw it fulfilled. We can do the same. I can read the same promises in God’s words over and over and have them impact me differently each time. Sometimes a verse is a principle to be practiced, later that same passage can become a specific instruction, and again later it can transform into a unique prophetic word for myself or others. We must hear the Word, speak the Word, live the Word, obey the Word, confess the Word and share the Word with others to fully extract its many riches. LORD, open Your Word to me afresh this day.

NO TOWER NECESSARY

“These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God,” I Corinthians 2:10 ESV. I can hardly remember what it was like to search for information without pushing the “find” button on a device. However, the wisdom of God remains unsearchable by earthly means. No amount of human effort can forcibly open the treasures of heaven; even the Tower of Babel in modern form still would not reach high enough. Yet, God pours out limitless insight into the ones who approach Him with humility and sincerity. He not only provides the Word for our study and enlightenment He sent His Spirit to our hearts. Father, Creator, and Caretaker, You withhold no good thing from Your people. Your promises are “yes and amen”. Heaven’s blessings await the fervent seeker, its doors wide open to the humble of heart.

WITH HIM

In the sixth month, the angelGabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee namedNazareth,to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph,of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary.And he came to her and said, “Greetings,O favored one,the Lord is with you!”Luke 1:26-28 ESV. An angelic messenger of God announced to Mary that The Lord’s Seed was within Her. She was WITH CHILD. My “messenger angel” was a Sunday School teacher when I was but 5-years-old. Since then, the LORD has been WITH ME. The challenge since has been to realize, He’s not following me around, in fact, I must follow Him; I’m WITH HIM! He wants to use me to help others make the same discovery. I become their "messenger from heaven". What a privilege! LORD, use me as Your divine messenger this Holy Season to help others discover, You are “Emmanuel”, God WITH US, IN US, THROUGH US.

BOUNDLESS

“Yours is the day, yours also the night; You have established the heavenly lights and the sun. You have fixed all the boundaries of the earth; You have made summer and winter,” Psalm 74:16-17 ESV. I watched a National Geographic Special on “whales” recently. They were showing humpback whales and their seasonal mating trek over thousands of miles to the same place each year. The voice behind the fantastic video noted: “No one knows how they perfectly navigate such distances.” I suggest, the Boundless One who created earth’s boundaries also helps the creatures within it maneuver through its obstacles. For those indeed sent and led by God’s Spirit, no obstacle is too difficult, no height too high to climb nor distance too far to reach. Glorious LORD blessed are those who know Your voice and obey Your commands and whose only limits are those You desire.

STRANGER BOX RECYCLED

STRANGER BOX RECYCLED (Originally posted 10/23/18) 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. 
How heartbreaking to return to America from Israel today only to discover t…

NEEDLESS QUESTIONS

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Sonfrom the Father, full of grace and truth,” John 1:14 ESV. I have experienced a new grace lately. The question "why now?" comes to mind, but why should I ask? Does the Almighty, All-knowing One need to explain the things He does in His own Sovereign Power and Eternal Wisdom to me? Would I understand if He did? Grace is an undeserved, divinely granted and inexplicable gift; would not demand for His explanation contradict the very nature of grace? One last question, will I never learn? The answer is yes, I am learning, even now. Questions breed doubt, grace breeds revelation, and truth. So, I will leave the questions behind and just breathe in God’s Grace as deeply as I can. There, better already. Glorious God of All Grace and Mercy, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You.

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 very 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 in 2 Kings, erstwhile her child laid dead at her home. Her son would later be raised from the dead because of the underlying faith driving those words. No one can declare such things while mired in earthly obsessions. These are divinely breathed 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 simply to call upon higher realities. I may not see the full manifestation of the miracle I seek while in this flesh, even so, it is well, it is well with my soul! Circumstances come and go but God’s goodness and promises never change. My Lord Almighty, Healer of the Bro…

THE STAGE

“In your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” 1 Peter 3:15 ESV. 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.

THE ENVY TRAP

“A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones,” Proverbs 14:30 ESV. There is a razor-thin line between admiration and envy, making it dangerously easy to slip from one into the other. Respect and esteem can inspire us and provoke us to reach for greater heights in life, but when we cross over into personal comparisons, jealousy or judgmentalism, we become trapped in envy. Soon resentment moves in and if not dealt with, complete disdain eventually follows. Envy is nothing but unbelief, rooted in a lack of trust in God’s shepherding care, and fed by our own pouting pride. For me to be jealous of another person’s blessing is, in effect, to repudiate the Goodness of my 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 and ways without complaint. Blessed be Your Name.

COVETOUSNESS

“And he said to them, ‘Take care, and be on your guard against allcovetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of one's possessions’,” Luke 12:15 ESV. Coveting is a pernicious and deceptive sin. It may begin as innocent attraction, interest or admiration but it leads to destruction. In fact, covetousness is akin to worshiping a false God according to Colossians 3:5, “covetousness which is idolatry”. Covetousness is a renunciation of trust in God’s divine care and leads us to believe no desire should ever be denied us, no matter how wrong. A covetous heart cannot love purely. Thankfulness, on the other hand, leads us to the light. A grateful heart opens the way to unlimited peace and inexhaustible love since it focuses on the Provider, not the perceived provision. O Lord My Shepherd, cleanse my heart from earthly entanglements. Grant me a true love for You and others.

CARELESSNESS KILLS

“The one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing,” JAMES 1:25 ESV. Road signs can only help those who read them and make the necessary adjustments to the messages they carry. God provides The Law of Liberty, warnings, reminders, instructions and the navigational help of the Holy Spirit in our daily walk. He not restricting us from success, but providing the necessary tools to defeat our earthly tendencies toward lawlessness. Carelessness kills, but obedience offers life and safety. A wise person passionately seeks to be wiser still and is always searching to improve their awareness, discernment and response time to God’s directives. Holy Father may Your unrestricted Wisdom defeat my moments of irresponsible insensitivity to Your Guidance. Lord, make me a wiser man and grant me insight that I may live it and share it with others.

FORWARD IN FAITH

“And we know that for those who love God all things work togetherfor good, forthose who are called according to his purpose,” Romans 8:28 ESV.Even after miraculous deliverance, Israel’s final escape from 400 years of slavery in Egypt was fraught with complications. Just as things had greatly improved, they saw an army in angry pursuit to the rear, an opening sea ahead and empty desert beyond, but when your back is against the wall the only choice is to move forward. I get it. Most of my significant progress has been forced by circumstances. The goodness of God doesn’t always look so good at first glance, but in the end, He works His will in us and through us, often using circumstances we would never choose along the way. Glorious Lord, I praise and exalt you. You formed me for Your will and lovingly press me into it. LORD, Your wonders never cease.

ALL IN ONE, SPECIAL PACKAGE

“Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver and her profit better than gold,” Proverbs 3:13-14 ESV. My most consistent prayer throughout life has been one of seeking wisdom from God. Wisdom empowers more than treasures, fame or good fortune. In fact, success in earthly pursuits cannot guarantee happiness, love or safety, but wisdom supplies all we truly need. You could say wisdom is the perennially promised but rarely delivered “all in one special package”. Wisdom provides access to everything we truly need and protects us from things that harm us. “Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding,” Proverbs 4:7 NKJV. Glorious God and Father, grant me a continual flow of wisdom, understanding, and discernment.

PERFECT LOVE

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever,” Psalm 136:1 ESV. In this chapter, David states twenty-six times: “His love endures forever”, every single verse repeating this simple but profound truth. At times I really feel it, yet sometimes I lose awareness of His abiding and perfect love. But His love never diminishes, never grows cold, never, ever ends: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness,” Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV. Our human view of God’s love is clouded by our own capacity to love without conditions or limitations. 1 John 4:8 ends with this simple phrase “God is love”. He does not “fall in love”, become “more loving”, or “less loving”; He IS love. Father, You made us in Your image, use me as an open channel of Your amazing love to all whom I encounter.

THANKSGIVING

“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of Your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.” Psalm 9:1-2 (ESV). I have so many things to be thankful for that there are simply too many to recount.I began my adulthood with a huge advantage in life. It was not the things most people believe are necessary for success, our family had little of those. My enormous advantage was embodied in parents who loved each other deeply and genuinely loved God. My father passed away when I was but twelve, but God provided for me several men and women that were spiritual giants. Humble, powerful, loving, honorable and very honoring of others. So today on this Thanksgiving I’m particularly thankful for those who helped form me into the man I am. The full list is simply too exhaustive for this venue, but a shortlist would be my Mother Nadjy, Costa & Ruth Deir, Russell & Barbara Linenkhol, Doug & Sue Fowler, Paul…

NEEDLESSLY RECYCLED

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland,” Isaiah 43:18-19 ESV. Having traveled the globe to many impoverished areas I have seen the amazing creativity and ability of mankind to repurpose things; recycling is nothing new among the very poor. I have also experienced firsthand the human ability to recycle guilt, condemnation, and hatred of others. Letting the past go is a critical step to grasping today’s opportunities. Single-minded trust in today’s provision opens heaven’s fresh blessings now, while longing for the past paralyzes us, keeping us from moving forward. LORD, infuse my soul with faith and help me let go of what is no longer useful so I may take hold of the manna You send for me this new day.

DWELL RICHLY

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God,” Colossians 3:16 ESV. The first word in this verse is the key to a transformed life, “Let”. God’s Word is powerful, but only in the heart of someone whose will is surrendered to it. How can I “teach and admonish” others when I do not let the Word “dwell richly” in my own life? The word “admonish” in this context is directly connected to the words “dwell richly” and speaks of admonishment by example, not by nitpicking other’s failures. Our freedom in worship and an attitude of thankfulness are the signs of the Word of Christ dwelling “richly” within us. Blessed Father, enrich my heart and entire life with Your Word. May my life exemplify Your Joy and Kindness and my Your praise ever adorn my lips.

RATTLED, BUT NOT GREATLY SHAKEN

“He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken,” Psalm 62:2 ESV. Small tremors a few times, but only once was I in a genuine earthquake. Having lived in Costa Rica for a couple of years we had become so accustomed to minor tremors that we didn’t even notice the BIG ONE until the ground began to heave and shake. WOW, it is disorienting to discover that everything can be shaken at once and can last for such a long time! We don’t expect the ground on which we live to convulse, but sometimes it does. In those bewildering moments, on what will I stand? “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe,” Hebrews 12:28 (ESV) “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ,” 1 Corinthians 3:11 ESV. Lover of my Soul, You set my feet on solid rock. My life is safely nestled in Your Mighty Hands. In You, I safely rest.

HEAVENLY PROVISION

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth,” Colossians 3:1-2 ESV. Here, the apostle Paul speaks to believers as if their ascension into heaven has already happened! It has! The moment we die to self and take Christ as LORD we immediately begin transitioning from this world being our life-source and start living out of Heaven’s resources and power! We may boldly believe and declare, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” Philippians 4:18 ESV. To be clear, I can’t do just anything Iwant, but I CAN do whatever God wants! So, the things He commands in His Word are not suggestions, they are marching orders! His heavenly provision back-up His plans for us! LORD, use me for Your Glory as You will.

FULL SURRENDER

“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but Yours, be done,” Luke 22:42 ESV. Even Our Savior faced a struggle with full surrender in the heat of battle. His self-denying garden prayer must become my own: “not my will, but Yours be done.” There is but one salvation, but the process of sanctification is day by day, moment by moment. I am quite proficient at making up excuses to avoid doing something I do not want to do. Simultaneously, I am equally adept at constructing convincing arguments within myself for what I want. Neither of these skills is helpful to the person who wants to please God. In fact, there is constant danger of talking myself right over a cliff into a sea of selfishness and disobedience. Father help me pull away from carnal desires and to push deeper into surrender. Your will first, Your will always and Your will alone!

REALLY, REALLY BAD

“Whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness but is guilty of an eternal sin’, they were saying, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’” This is very serious. “Eternal sin” sounds really, really bad. Yet, all sin is really bad, so what is the uniqueness of this particular sin? The answer is in John 16:8 NKJV: “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment”. While Jesus is the source of our forgiveness, only the Holy Spirit can “convict" us. Conviction is not feeling sorrow, the word convict” is a translation of the Greek word “elencho” which means “to convince someone of the truth”. Like an attorney in the courtroom, the Holy Spirit clarifies facts, destroys false arguments and leads the jury to the truth. To blaspheme the Holy Spirit is to destroy the only path for actually “coming to the Jesus, “the WAY, theTRUTH, The LIFE”. LORD, may I never refuse or deny the means of my salvation by rejecting the work of YOUR SPIRIT.…

THE LIGHT OF TRUTH

“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying,‘I am the light of the world. Whoeverfollows me will notwalk in darkness, but will have the light of life,” John 8:12 ESV.I love the unique sense of hope and anticipation my heart feels as dawn approaches. In early dawn shadowed objects may seem strange, but when morning light breaks, previously obscured details are openly exposed. Light reveals the formerly unseen in resplendent glory. In simple terms, light reveals the truth. It is commonly said: “the truth hurts.” Yes, it does! But not as much as deception does. I cannot honestly say that I always welcome the truth easily, but ultimately, I love truth. I need the truth. I want the truth. When truth bathed in love arrives to the tormented heart, it cleanses the soul and lifts our spirit like nothing else. You, O Lord, are Truth and Love Incarnate. May Your Light fill me afresh this day.

SEER OF THE UNSEEN

Each new day presents unanticipated battles, unforeseen foes lurking just beyond view. There is no chance I can be fully prepared for everything that awaits me, yet “how sweet the joy that fills my soul”, my victory rests in the Seer of the Unseen. “No creature is hidden from his sight, but all arenaked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account,” Hebrews 4:13 ESV.Come what may, the Lord is my triumph; what is unforeseeable for me is in clear view of Almighty God. “The Lord is on my side as my helper; I shall look in triumph on those who hate me,” Psalm 118:7 ESV. While on ground level I may struggle to find a way forward, the LORD of Glory never loses sight of where I am nor what I will need to finish strong. I possess “blessed assurance” in the knowledge that God will make a way where there is no way. King of Kings, into Your hands I cast every care, You are my strength O Lord. I trust in Your unfailing love.

LIP FILTER

We often feel compelled to “have the last word” in conversations, but having the RIGHT words is far more important. Scripture reveals: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof,” Proverbs18:21 KJV. Since we have no control over our words after they depart our lips, it is necessary to take great care BEFORE we speak. “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone,” Colossians 4:6 NIV.A Biblically informed and Spirit-guided lip filter between the mind and the mouth serves everyone’s best interest, avoiding needless pain and giving love the chance to be our guide. Slowing the velocity of my replies to others increases the effectiveness of the filter. Lord, let Your Word saturate my thoughts, and transform my spoken words into instruments of life. May only that which is bathed in Your love and filled with Your truth depart my lips.

I BOW MY KNEES

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, He is God! It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!” Psalm 100:1-4 ESV. God’s Presence is glorious, soul-cleansing, affirming and transforming. Nonchalant casualness should never accompany my approach to God; I must not take for granted the high privilege of worship; "For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named," Ephesians 3:14 ESV. Almighty Father forgive my recklessness. May I never show contempt for your kindness by inappropriate brazenness. I acknowledge the privilege of worship and I bow my knees to Your Majesty.

A STONE IN MY SHOE

I picked up a small stone in my shoe while walking. It was so tiny I could hardly see it, but I could go no farther until it was removed. Little things are often our demise as King Solomon pointed out in Song of Solomon 2:15 ESV: “Catch the foxes for us, the littlefoxes that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom.”For God, everything is small in comparison to Himself, yet He scrutinizes even the tiniest details. There is a lesson here: It is harmful to ignore lingering issues that need attention, no matter how tiny and manageable they seem at the moment. Once I get into a rhythm, I don’t like to stop, but minimizing things can lead to much bigger disasters. Father, nothing is hidden from Your eyes, help me to recognize hidden, debilitating issues. Settle me down and place me at Your feet that I may learn to walk in full freedom.

POSSESSED!

Life will continuously teach us lessons if we pay attention, our Heavenly Father weaves His wisdom into every aspect of His creation. As an example, Proverbs 6:6 ESV instructs us: “Go to the ant, O lazy one; Observe her ways and be wise.” Like ripe fruit dangling on a low-hanging limb, knowledge, and understanding are easily within reach at any moment if we just pay attention. But excuses come easier than actions. And while failure is painful, it is also a convenient alternative to the hard work success requires. So, we think: “If only I were more good looking, or had fame, or a better boss, or more money, then…!”  Frankly, what we possess makes little difference, but what POSSESSES US makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE! Desire and passion outweigh fame and fortune. LORD, I am Yours. Possess my heart, my mind, my soul, my strength and use me for Your Glory.

FROM SUFFERING TO REJOICING

“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us,” Romans 5:3-5 ESV. This passage is not suggesting that suffering is to be celebrated, it is pointing to the power of God’s redemption. We do not rejoice “FOR” our sufferings, we rejoice “IN” our sufferings and “FOR’ what it produces…endurance, character, hope, deliverance from shame and an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the Love of God! Wow! Suffering turned to rejoicing is but one beautiful example among many, of the ways God REDEEMS us!! LORD God Almighty hallowed be Thy Name! You are Wonderful beyond description, too Marvelous for words. You are LORD of All.

IN MY FATHER'S SHOES

“Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked,” 1 John 2:6 ESV.The desire to walk in bigger shoes is instinctive and rooted in mankind’s created purpose since “God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them,” Genesis 1:27 NKJV. We are being groomed by God for higher things. As a child, I would commandeer my father’s shoes and walk around the house. It was clumsy, awkward, adventurous and a bit perilous; it still is. Now that my daily pursuit is to walk in my Heavenly Father’s shoes, I sometimes experience the same perils I did as a child. I often feel too small, too amateurish, too inelegant and clunky. But wear them I must. Lord, I am still a rookie, but I know that "risk is reward" when taken in pursuit of Your will. Stabilize my steps as I continue to learn.

TRIUMPH IN THE TRASH COMPACTOR

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair,” 2 Corinthians 4:8 NIV. Life often seems like a rugby scrum. While I know full well that God is always present and all His ways are loving and faithful, still, at times it feels as if I’m dwelling in a trash compactor. Each time I am tempted to complain I must remember that there are many more powerful options, instead of complaining about the pressures, I can glorify God in my distress. I can confess His Promises and shout for joy, giving grateful praise to Him who is Ever Faithful. I can put on a garment of praise and anoint my head with the oil of joy. Glorious Father, You are my Keeper; Your presence sustains me in the midst of chaos. I lift my eyes to You, my Fortress, my Deliverer, my Peace.

A FIRM GRIP

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts, and see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” Psalm 139:23-24 ESV. I prefer to think of myself as strong and steady in my pursuit of God’s will and ways, but the reality is I am easily distracted. Passing interests sometimes cause me to pull against the safety and needed guidance His handhold provides. I do not resent the Lord’s firm grip on my life, but in moments of preoccupation with temporary things I sometimes forget I’m not just being taken for a stroll; God is actually taking me somewhere He WANTS me to be, somewhere I was CREATED to be, somewhere I MUST 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.

THINLY-VEILED WONDERS

“Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit,” Ecclesiastes 7:8 ESV. The Hebrew word for “patience” is “savlanut.” Its actual meaning is rooted in the understanding that God is in every moment, so it’s not simply “cool your jets”. It’s more like: “While you are waiting, take it all in, don’t miss a thing.” When I patiently pay attention, I often see amazing things that I would have hurriedly brushed by. Every moment is full of lessons and blessings that are thinly veiled but easily missed. God is present in every place at all times; therefore, every second is brimming with all that He is. Each twinkle of time is permeated with wisdom, provision, opportunity, life, light, victory, and peace. Lord, help me to see thinly-veiled wonders. Heal my restless haste that I in may know Your glorious mysteries and marvels.

ENVY

“Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill,” Philippians 1:15 ESV. Envy is a doorway to deep darkness. In the first place, wishing to have someone else’s good fortune is in effect, to question God’s forethought, wisdom, and goodness to us. When we wonder, “Why them and not me?”, we have already judged God as potentially unfair or misguided. Additionally, to cherry-pick from another person’s life is foolish from the start because we tend to choose what we would like to happen for us but completely ignore their sorrows and pain. Finally, to feel that we “deserve better” is an insidious form of pride. The Bible declares: “Blessedarethe meek, for they will inherit the earth.” Father, in You I have all things in One, therefore I lack for nothing and “no good thing will You withhold from them that walk uprightly”.

FALSEHOOD

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer,” Psalm 19:14 ESV. This passage makes it clear that God doesn’t differentiate between our thoughts and what we say out loud. In fact, our thoughts are the primary target, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” Proverbs 23:7 NKJV. As they say, “you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig”. Dishonesty was formed in me as a young child before I was even conscious of what lying was. But the “Hound of Heaven” won’t let me escape. Each new day He takes another run at my falsehood. And for this I am thankful. My goal is Ephesians 4:25 ESV: “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another”. LORD, I ask for increased grace that this verse would be fully manifest in my life.

STUBBORN PATCHES

“For the time is coming when people will not enduresound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,andwill turn away from listening to the truth andwander off into myths,” 2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV.Many believers chase after the best teachers, preachers, exotic doctrines, unique worship experiences, and popular gatherings only to remain in the same shallow spiritual condition year after year. But spiritual nutrition will not change what only repentance can transform. It is common that grass will be summer green yet have stubborn patches where grass will not grow. These hard, crusty areas must be removed before new growth will appear. Sunshine, water or nutrition will not help, only removal and replacement will make a difference. Lord, help me to establish the right sequence. Where dried patches lie in my soul, grant me the grace to truly repent and sow into my life that which You desire.

STILL WATERS

“He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters,” Psalm 23:2 ESV. Sometimes a lake can be so still everything above is nearly perfectly reflected upon it. This is what God wants of me; I too, must settle down and be still, allowing Him to be mirrored upon my life. So, what is my problem? Ripples. What God sees of Himself in me is too often distorted by every shifting wind. “And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm,” Mark 4:39 ESV. I must not allow passing circumstances to constantly ruffle me. Rather, I must permit His abiding peace to calm my soul so His majesty can be clearly reflected in my life. This is a daily battle. Father, I am content in Your care. Glorify Yourself in me, make my whole life like still waters so Your greatness may be fully reflected.

PRAYER

“Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen,” Matthew 6:9-13 ESV. I truly admire the ease with which some people pray. I generally require an impulse; circumstantial prompting is almost always the cause of my most sincere prayers. Thankfully, as I have matured the impulses need not be as intense and they seem to arrive with greater frequency. The disciples were so aware of the difference between the Savior’s prayerfulness and their own that they asked for instruction on it. Lord, I too, need continual instruction. Guide me to a place of constant praise, surrender, thankfulness, and invocation.

THE TRAIL OF TRUST

“TheLordis myshepherd; I shall notwant…” Psalm 23:1 ESV. You know what follows, but this simple phrase says it all! So, why give in to the convenience of discouragement? Despair offers no rewards, yet since it is so readily available it is easy to take its downhill path. The trail of trust is a much steeper climb, but trusting Him grants unseen vistas, still waters and restored souls. God never ceases His tender care, He is “Yahweh Ro‘i “, “The LORD My Shepherd”. Even when we drift away from the fold or run and hide from His care, The Shepherd of Our Souls never loses sight of His lambs, not even for a brief moment. Though at times we try we simply cannot tread alone, for He will never, ever abandons one of His lambs. Blessed Yahweh, Ro’i, from sinking sand, You lift me, With tender hand, You lift me. Truly, all is well today and forever on the trail of trust.

SO LOVED

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life,” John 3:16 ESV. As Christians, we most often use this passage to share our faith with unbelievers. Today I’m focusing on the words “SO LOVED”. I feel sad for the child of God who knows so little of God’s love that all they can see is their own concerns and needs. These words “SO LOVED” prick my heart in ten thousand ways. Even one drop of God’s pure love upon an open heart changes everything; reordering priorities, provoking a sense of purpose and opening our eyes to the needs all around us, even those far, far away. When God’s love enters our heart, it comes fully loaded with such power it releases effusive joy, motivation, and faith to act. Blessed Father, God of Glory, Your Love offers far more than we could ever need or desire. Lord, make me a channel of Your amazing, irrepressible love.

LEANING ON EVERLASTING ARMS

“In their hearts, humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps,” Proverbs 16:9 NIV. We each spend countless hours planning for things that never happen. Most of what has actually occurred in my life I never planned for at all. I am at peace with that, having accepted that God establishes my steps. The Bible promises: “And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail,” Isaiah 58:11 ESV. The LORD is working me into His plan, not the other way around. I will not cease making new plans, but not without His guidance. I will do my best to hold my plans loosely, knowing that God is in control and has the final authority. Father, I trust Your infinite wisdom. What comfort there is in leaning on Your Everlasting Arms! You work all things for our good and grant us joy divine.

DANGEROUS DISRESPECT

“So, we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him,” I John 4:16 ESV. These are such powerful words that openly reveal our Heavenly Father’s motivations toward all mankind. “Beloved,let us love one another, for love is from God, andwhoever loves has been born of God and knows God.Anyone who does not love does not know God, becauseGod is love,” I John 4:7-8 ESV. It is stunning considering how depraved we are without His moment-by-moment work within us. Yet, those He created in His image hold His heart and constant attention. Any hatred for others I accommodate shows dangerous disrespect for the Creator Himself. I cannot claim to be His child while harboring hatred or disregard for those He loves. Father, Lover of My Soul, pour Your pure love through me to others, especially those I disdain. Forgive my reckless gall.

LIAR, LIAR

Paul warned Timothy long ago about things we see today on an ever-broadening scale: “evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived,” 2 Corinthians 3:13 ESV. This is nothing new. There have always been lies and liars, the deceived and the deceivers. So why does it seem to be worse in today’s world? Deception is simply more easily spread in the technological age in which we now live. But our protections from falsehood are as powerful and effective today as ever before. Daily prayer and study of Scripture, regular fellowship with mature believers and the discernment granted by the Holy Spirit are more than sufficient to keep us stable in a roaring sea of lies. Remember, “He who is in you is greater thanhe who is in the world,” I John 4:4 ESV, so: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful,” Colossians 3:15 ESV. LORD, keep me on course. Use me to guide others by “speaking the truth in lo…

MINDFUL OF WONDERS

“They refused to obey, and they were not mindful of Your wonders that You did among them…But You are God, Ready to pardon, Gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, Abundant in kindness, And did not forsake them,” Nehemiah 9:17 NKJV. While waiting for a flight I noticed three young boys poised at the window watching all the runway activity. The giddy wonder of their new experience prompted me to realize how much I’ve become indifferent to the wonder of modern flight. I’m so accustomed to moving across the world at amazing speeds I resent that it is not even faster! Really? Sadly, I often do the same with the wonders of God. How dare I? I‘ve experienced so many blessings, miracles, and wonders, that at I actually take them for granted! God of Wonders, forgive my hubris and awaken my attentiveness to the wonders you perform. Help me see Your works with childlike eyes of innocence, fascination, praise, and wonder.

THE PLUMB LINE

"This is what he showed me: behold, the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand,” Amos 7:7 ESV. A small weight suspended from a string provides a straight vertical line, the Law of Gravity assures the "plumb line's" accuracy. Family, friends, culture, and even sincere Christians around us are only relative measures. I may feel justified in my actions yet be completely off plumb in the eyes of God. What I need is a precise plumb line by which I can see if I measure up to God’s will and ways; personal opinions will not do. Only God’s Word enlightened by the Holy Spirit of God is an accurate enough plumb line to build a spiritual life that can stand the tests of storms. Lord of all Wisdom, Your Spirit, and Word accurately expose my pretenses and shortcomings. Deliver me from falsehood from any source and establish my steps according to Your ways.

KINGDOM COMRADES

Life unveils the beauty of friendship: “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity,” Proverbs 17:7 ESV and “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” Proverbs 18:24. 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. Lord, grant me a warrior’s heart. Free me from temporal entanglements and bind my heart to Kingdom Comrades.

OPEN HANDS. OPEN HEART

“One gives freely yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered,” Proverbs 11:24-25 ESV. God is mercifully generous, pouring out His blessings on both the deserving and undeserving. Giving activates a part of the divine nature imprinted on every human heart by its Creator that simply cannot be activated otherwise. Benevolence without authentic love is possible, but genuine love devoid of giving is utterly impossible. Generosity with strings attached is the earthly way, giving unconditionally is heavenly. Many of the issues of the heart are caused by selfish resistance to give, but generosity is a cure for many of our ills. Simply stated, open hands, open heart, closed hands, closed heart. Lord, teach me Your ways. Thank You for every opportunity to be more like You.

A BATTERED TOOL

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them,” Ephesians 2:10 ESV. I’m a tool in the hand of God. He first crafted me so He could use me to craft other things. The immature believer thinks they are the final product to be shown on display. This thinking couldn’t be more wrong! A quick look into a well-used toolbox reveals worn hammers, scratched saws, and other battered tools. Never be concerned with being a “perfect looking Christian”; only a new Christian has no marks. We’re created to be used by the Master to craft others, not to show off our polished looks. Get out of the fancy superstore and into the harvest field! Yes, it means some battering, dust, and dirt, but I must remember, in God’s Holy Hands, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 ESV. LORD, use me today for Your Glory.

KEEPING IT REAL

"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:14 ESV. As a child, I spent much of my time pretending, creating elaborately detailed scenarios in my mind where I was the central character to everything that was happening. While these imagined adventures are excellent for children, as adults, pretending we are superheroes does us no good at all. Maturity requires humility; an overstated opinion of one’s importance is not only foolish, but it is also dangerous. Whenever I perilously crossed that line, God in His mercy provides a way for to be pulled back. Blessed Father, help me keep it real. Thank You for the honest mirror Scripture offers. Though I can do all things through Your strength, I can do nothing of eternal value absent Your constant guidance, nourishment, and remedy.

MY HIDING PLACE

“You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your Word,” Psalm 119:114 ESV. Pain is very personal, but every heart knows its own concealed agony. Smiles and laughter often mask inward grief. But to the one who truly knows God as Father, those times of veiled anguish actually become uniquely precious. For, in the same way, our deepest pain is very private; times of desperate intimacy with the Great Shepherd turns our sorrows into joy in ways that no one else can share. In those “hiding place” moments, mourning becomes dancing, grief becomes gladness, and pouting becomes praise! Just the mention of His name declared in bedrock belief shatters the darkness and opens the heavens! My Lord, my God, You are Awesome, Powerful, and Wonderful in all Your ways! All Glory and Majesty are Yours forever and ever amen!

LOVING THE IMPERFECT PERFECTLY

“This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends,” John 15:12-13 ESV. It is a common deception to fall in love with false images. In fact, modern advertising has become extremely adept at deception by exaggeration. We often imagine only the good about something, someplace or someone, only to subsequently discover we have successfully ignored the truth. Human love is delusional because it is selfish at its core; we naturally look for what makes us feel happy, not what challenges us, strengthens us, or makes us better people. Only a godly worldview can prepare us to properly love people, places, or things. Father in Heaven, You love the imperfect perfectly. Grant me Your brand of love and deliver me from my own. Let Your perfecting love in me shape the world around me.

FINISHING WELL

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing,” 2 Timothy 4:7-8 ESV. I am not striving to live the most comfortable or easy life possible; I am contending to fight the good fight, to do God’s bidding, and to finish well. What a beautiful life I’ve already lived. When I consider all the fantastic people I’ve met and worked with around the world, the miraculous doors I’ve walked through, and the amazing opportunities I’ve been granted, I can gratefully say, “It is well!” At this point, my goal is finishing strong. I’m in no hurry to finish my race, it’s just that I want to run hard all the way to the ribbon! I want to please “The Audience of One”. LORD, it is well, it is well, with my soul.

DANCING THROUGH THE STORM

“When the tempest passes, the wicked is no more, but the righteous is established forever,” Proverbs 10:25 ESV. I have passed through a few hurricanes over a lifetime. As outer bands spew copious amounts of rain and trees swing wildly in the powerful winds, there is an eerie beauty and justifiable fear. Palm trees, with their long, lanky trunks and floppy branches perched at the very top, appear somewhat fragile and vulnerable until these the wind really starts blowing.The Palms seem destined for destruction to the inexperienced, as it turns out, they handle hurricane-force winds better than stately oaks or Giant cedars. While huge trees tear apart, the palms just dance through the storm. Father, I get it; what may appear as strength is not. You design each of us with unseen, inexplicable power. Help me stay firmly planted in You as I dance through the storm.

WONDROUS MEDDLING

“O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar,” Psalm 139:1-2 ESV. While my private thoughts may be hidden from others, all my thoughts, wishes, fears, motives, or aspirations are in full view of the Lord. He examines all my paths, not only those I have already taken, but even those I merely consider pursuing. This would be a moment by moment battle of wills if I were still of the impression that my life was my own, but this issue is settled; I must decrease, He must increase. Though at times, I forget to acknowledge His ever-present examinations, He never, ever loses track, not for the smallest measurement of time. This is sometimes disconcerting, but even my consternation is a sign of His “Wondrous Meddling”. Glorious Father, it is true, I am Yours. Have Your way in me in every way and at all times.

FREE WITHIN

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,” Acts 16:25 ESV. Were they praising God so He would deliver them from jail or praising God for their inner freedom no matter the circumstances? I believe the latter. It seems clear from their following actions that they were already free within. When the shackles fell off and the doors opened, they stayed right where they were...the praise service was not over! Astonishingly, none of the other prisoners wanted to leave either! Such is the effect of praise flowing freely from a grateful, God-praising, fully surrendered heart! This is the promised “oil of Gladness” that comes when we are filled with the Joy of the Holy Spirit: “And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit,” Acts 13:52 ESV. LORD, You are great and greatly to be praised!

DIVINE TENSION

There is a divine tension for the child of God who wants to please Him. We are commanded to “Go into all the world,” in Mark 16:15 ESV, yet warned “Do not be conformed to this world”, in Romans 12:2 ESV. This leads to many extremes. On the one hand, some run away from the world and act as if they are afraid to be in it. Others turn to worldliness as a life pattern. So how can we be “thelight of theworld” as stated in Matthew 5:14 ESV, yet not be worldly ourselves? Proverbs 2:11 ESV reveals the answer: “discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you". Like a fireman’s hazmat suit, discretion can protect us within a hazardous environment while empowering us to enter danger zones to fulfill our duty to help others. LORD help me walk in the world but not walk like the world. Grant me good discernment, discretion, and deliverance from evil while “overcoming evil with good”.

MISPLACED TRUST

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God,” Psalm 20:7 ESV. King David’s song of praise reveals a powerful principle, though he himself was a famous warrior and victor in many battles, he reminds us that trust in human resources is a fool’s game. His words of praise are a clarion call to rise to a higher understanding of success. Another powerful King of Israel writes: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths,” Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV. I cannot simply add “in the name of the LORD” to my own ideas or actions. I must first seek His will, obey His commands, trust in Him throughout every battle and give praise to Him for every victory! O LORD My God and King, lead me in Your ways and deliver me from misplaced trust.

DYING EMPTY

“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith,” 2 Timothy 4:6-7 ESV. What a way to go! The high price of gasoline is a strong motivation to try to arrive with the tank as empty as possible to a station with low prices. In the same manner, I have already determined the condition in which I want to arrive at the end of my life on earth, I want to die empty. I do not want any God-given potential to be unrealized and left discarded in the cemetery. Cemeteries are rich depositories of wasted potential.With the world around me in such spiritual poverty, I cannot imagine retreating or retiring from the battlefield. Eternal God, may I faithfully expend every divinely bestowed gifting in my life. Enflame my heart and help me burn brightly until my very last breath on earth.

LOVE & HONOR

"Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor,” Romans 12:10 ESV. I began my adulthood with a huge advantage in life. It was not the things most believe are necessary for success, we had little of those; our enormous advantage was embodied in several men and women that lived out the "Romans 12" model of life. They were spiritual giants. Humble, powerful, loving, honorable and very honoring of others. The full list is simply too exhaustive for this venue, but a short list would be: Costa & Ruth Deir, Russell & Barbara Linenkhol, Doug & Sue Fowler, Paul & Dee Goodwin, and there are many more! They were preachers, engineers, surgeons, missionaries, but more than all that, they were my spiritual fathers and mothers, counselors, instructors, models, friends. LORD, may my life pass forward the great treasures You have bestowed.

THE FINAL WORD

“We humans make plans, but the LORD has the final word,” Proverbs 16:1 CEV. There are many powerful forces in the universe. A violent storm on the high seas seems impossible to defeat, but the story of Jonah reveals that the LORD has the final word. The Egyptian Army was the most powerful of its day, but the story of God’s deliverance of the enslaved Jews again reveals, God has the final word. So, whatever you face, no matter how powerful the feared outcomes appear, no matter what others may say, never forget, the LORD has the final word! “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 4:6-7 ESV. LORD, I rest in Your love.

DUMP THE STUFF

“He must increase, but I must decrease,” John 3:30 ESV. Profound words from John the Baptist. He recognized that God had greatly used him for a time, but it was now time for him to decrease so Jesus could have full-stage. Sharon and I are again downsizing our home, a normal part of life as we age. The biggest surprise is how much stuff we continue to hold onto for no good reason. How much more this is true in our spiritual lives! We all hold on to unhealthy relationships, false dreams, old habits or even physical things that we keep around for inexplicable reasons. It’s time to dump the stuff! It’s time to give it away! It’s time to move into the future! “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit,” John 12:24 ESV. LORD, grant me the grace to lay down what I must that You may be glorified in me.