Monday, January 31, 2011

Monday, January 31, 2011 - Incoming!

     Our favorite family movies include either action-packed intrigue with that wonderful touch of comedy, or full-blown comedies with a touch of plot. Spies and agents in the films always have the latest gear, the funniest of which is the mini-harpoon shooter Agent 86 receives on his first mission in the movie Get Smart. As a rookie in the field and new to dangerous gadgets, he manages to hurt himself and waste most of his tools in the learning process.  
     David, the Shepherd-Warrior-King, loved to call God his Shield.
 "The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. 
My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song."  
Psalm 28:7
     In David's time, a well-constructed shield had to be heavy to deflect an enemy's onslaught of swords, spears, javelins and arrows. Goliath's shield weighed 30 pounds. Heavy shields meant soldiers had to be strong and agile to carry them properly while hurling their own ammunition. Extra large "standing shields" covered most of the body but were so heavy they required specially assigned soldiers called shield-bearers to carry them. Other types of shields were smaller and lighter for maneuverability but these didn't cover much body at a time. While shields were valuable in warfare, their success depended on the craftsmen who made them and the soldiers who used them.
     As our Shield, praise God, He works a bit differently than these flawed man-made versions that left a person's legs or backside vulnerable. David said in Psalm 33:20: 
"We wait in hope for the LORD; He is our help and our shield." 
Now any soldier who waits for his shield to spot trouble and jump into place on its own would end up as carnage on the battlefield in a physical battle, but in the spiritual realm, where God is our Shield, we wait in hope behind Him for our protection. Sarah Young puts it this way in today's Jesus Calling entry:  " . . .unlike inanimate armor," Jesus is "always alert and active." He surrounds us on all sides, leaving no vulnerable Achilles' heels. He stretches upward to trap incoming fiery arrows (Eph. 6:16) and wraps around us to deflect swords and javelins aimed to damage our faith and shake our hearts. He adds no burden to our battle but carries and covers us. We can be rookies or long-time soldiers in His army to benefit from His gentle protection. We don't have to push the right button or fear self-injury when we hide in Him. He's got our backs, our minds, our hearts, our salvation all in His loving Hands. He sees what's coming today and tomorrow and if we're smart we'll sit tight and "wait in hope for the LORD," rejoicing that He knows exactly how to handle the most cunning and crafty enemy. 
    Lord, we praise You for Your flexibility, Your gentleness, Your protection, Your battle-wise strategies. We're babies when it comes to fighting the enemy since most of us are still struggling against being our own worst enemies. But, as our spiritual Shield, You can protect us from ourselves and from the enemy. I praise You that I don't have to know secret codes or have certain skills for You to defend me. Thank You for the security I find in Your protection. Speak to me Lord, and show me personal battles in which I need to wait for You instead of planning my own defense. 
In the Name of Jesus Christ, Messiah, Prince of Peace, Conqueror of Death, and Victor over sin! 

"When I am afraid, I will trust in You. 
     In God, Whose Word I praise, in God I trust;
          I will not be afraid. 
               What can mortal man do to me?" 
                    Psalm 56:3-4 

  "Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, 
for tomorrow will worry about itself. 

Each day has enough trouble of its own." 
Matthew 6:34
"I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, 
and I will bring you back to this land.  
I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."
Genesis 28:15
Inspired by Jesus Calling
Photo from

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011 - Are You Talking to Me?

     I was sitting at the airport years ago studying some notes and waiting for my plane the first time it happened to me. The person sitting two seats down interrupted my thoughts by suddenly and rather loudly asking, "Hey, how's it going?" I looked up and said "Fine, how about you?" He hesitated, looking off into some vague part of the terminal, leaving several seconds of awkward silence. I looked around to see if he could have been speaking to anyone else but no one else was near enough to hear him. I almost made it home without the plane when he suddenly burst out laughing and said, "Oh, I'm just a little tired. No, I'm at the airport." With my heart racing from his bizarre outburst I thought, "Lovely, I'm getting on a plane with a wacko."  He had yet to make eye contact so I asked in a mildly irritated voice, "Are you talking to me?" He turned to look at me for the first time, continuing to talk and that's when I saw the blue thing wrapped around his ear.
     One of the first Bible stories I remember learning in Sunday School was about the boy Samuel hearing an unknown Voice break the night's silence by calling his name. My vivid imagination and fear of the dark stopped me from hearing anything past the point when Eli told Samuel how to answer the next time the LORD called his name: "Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening." (1 Sam. 3:8-9)  Sometimes I would lie in bed looking at my ceiling after everyone was asleep and practice being brave like Samuel: "Speak LORD, I'm listening," then I would throw the covers over my head and beg, "No, don't!" I wanted to hear from God but was terrified He might boom out my name and THEN what would I do? In my own way, I had enough faith to believe God could and would speak to me, I just wasn't completely sold on how He might do it.
      I didn't need to worry: the LORD has a gazillion creative ways to whisper my name. All communication breakdowns have been my fault because I didn't respond in childlike faith with a "Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening." Instead, I pretended to be asleep, or drowned out the LORD's gentle Voice with other voices, including mine. I put Him off until later or responded to His call by doing all the talking and never asking or allowing Him to speak again. I've heard Him whispering my name and have been guilty of asking in an irritated voice, "Are You Talking to Me? - Shouldn't You be telling this to so-and-so?" instead of saying with awe, "Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening."  My sweet Lord has always spoken in the most appropriate and tender ways, but sometimes I've left Him talking to Himself because I didn't want to hear what He had to say.
Lord God, what a privilege and honor to have the King of kings and Lord of lords call our names. What other God cares so deeply for those who worship Him? Who else speaks to His  disciples as friends? Forgive us when we ignore You. Have mercy on us for taking Your Voice lightly or for granted. Speak to us, LORD, for Your servants are listening. Change our hearts and lead us to find great delight in Your commands and may we be awed by Your Presence. Give us courageous hearts to hear Your Voice and to speak Your Truth to others. 
In the Name of Jesus Who opened the lines of communication between God's heart and ours.   
"Praise the LORD, 
Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, who finds great delight in His commands . . . 
       He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD." 
Psalm 112: 1, 7

Inspired by My Utmost for His Highest and Jesus Calling

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday, January 29, 2011 - Ride 'em, Cowboy!

     After chomping at the bit to start Dave Ramsey's course, Financial Peace University, our group met for the first time last Thursday where we received our shrunk-wrapped boxes of materials. I tore into ours and searched its contents: 
     *book filled with chapters to read, check; 
     *workbook filled with ominous blanks to fill, check;  
     *credit card cover designed to trigger trembling and sweating; check;
     *an attractively packaged envelope system, check;
     *order forms to replenish the aforementioned items,  check.
Uh-oh. Our box was missing a key content: Where was the blank check to cover our debt? 
    I woke up and remembered this was a different kind of salvation: this salvation would not happen by grace alone but would require hard work, discipline and dedication. Evidently good 'ole Dave believes if we made the mess, we need to fix it. What would Jesus do, Dave?  
     God honored both Dave and me by creating us in His image ("male and female, He created them") which in part means we each have a free will to learn to control. While I'm still opening my heart's door to temptation and watching my untamed will run like the wind, Dave has risen to his God-given mission to become manager and domesticator.  
"Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, 
and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, 
over the livestock, over all the earth, 
and over all the creatures that move along the ground.' 
So God created man in His own image, 
in the image of God He created him; 
male and female He created them."
Genesis 1:26-27
    God's gift of "freedom" becomes a prison when we don't learn to lasso it in and lay it kicking and bucking on God's altar. After being dragged through the muck by the twin mavericks of wanting and spending, Dave found the saddle and began breaking in his own wayward thought patterns and will.

"We demolish arguments and every pretension 
that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, 
and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 
2 Corinthians 10:5
     Now that Dave is happy and content in his debt-free existence, why should he worry about me and my problems? Who am I to ask someone to show me the ropes on covering my debt? Shouldn't I have to suffer for the trouble I've caused?

       "What is man that You are mindful of him, 
                 the son of man that You care for him?                                          
                       You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings      
                              and crowned him with glory and honor." 
Psalm 8:5
      As part of the body of Christ, Ramsey hurts for people still trying to crawl out of the pit of debt and he dirties his hands to help the rest of us. What a picture of Christ, seated in heaven without a problem to His Holy Name yet reaching down to scar His own Hands to pay our debt. Ramsey's experiences prove that "in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). Dave's found God's path to "spur" us "on toward love and good deeds" (Hebrews 10:24).  Now it's our turn to get in the saddle and rein in our own hearts and minds in the areas that keep getting away from us. 

Praise You God for having mercy on us, saving us completely, and covering our debt fully. While I can't do this for anyone else, I can show them the way by living up to Your calling for me and by reaching out to help when You show me the way. Use every experience in our lives for Your Glory and to nourish the Body of Christ. Father, Your Love and Grace amaze me and You just keep amazing me. Thank You for believers like Dave Ramsey who don't find their way and forget the rest of us. Thank You for using him and for always being mindful of us. Teach us to take captive every thought and way that bucks Your reign in our lives today. We lay it all on the altar today, Lord, all on the altar.
In the name of Jesus Who laid Himself on the altar of sacrifice to pay our debt in full! 

Inspired by Jesus Calling
Photo of wild horses from 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday, January 28, 2011 - King of the Hill

     Once upon a time, before television and video games, children played outside with sticks and stones and their imaginations. As wholesome as this sounds compared to television and video games, children have always needed adult supervision. Otherwise they invent games like "King of the Hill." Some unsupervised bully back in cave dwelling days came up with the rules, I'm sure. To play this game, one person (the king) stood on top of something high such as a hill, a pile of logs, or a stump and the rest of the children attempted to remove him and take his place as "King of the Hill." The methods for removing the king depended on the children and ranged from simply "tagging" the king to pushing, stick fighting and stone throwing. "King of the Hill" may be the reason parents first said, "It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt." 
     Some days life feels like a rough game of "King of the Hill." We fight to maintain control of our little hill but feel exposed and outnumbered by opposition from every direction. We can't accomplish anything because we're too busy running in circles dodging sticks and stones as we try to defend our territory.  
     Jesus taught people to rethink the hill they were wearing themselves out to defend. 
      "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, 
what you will eat or drink or about your body, what you will wear. 
Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?" 
Matthew 6:25
     If the hill we're defending is made of money, status, pride, vanity, another person, or self-interests it's a hill that will eventually betray us by swallowing us like quicksand. Constant worrying, planning or scheming are sure signs I've taken over as the doomed king of the wrong hill. My place is at the foot of the cross on the hill where every battle has already been won. I'm to look up to the King who conquered death and let Him conquer the enemies coming from behind me.  When I turn from Jesus to focus on an enemy, I've already lost the battle. My duty is not to fight the usurper but to remain kneeling to Jesus as King of my heart. No enemy can knock me down when I'm already kneeling before Christ and bowing to His will. 
Father, You're King of all creation and no one else can take Your place as King. We worship You for Your Holy Name and for Your Power. One day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess You are King of kings and Lord of lords. For now, Holy Spirit, keep us on the right hill, fighting only to keep You in the center of our lives. Protect us from people who use our own egos against us. We're gullible and are easily deceived into thinking we deserve to be king or that we're in control. It's laughable, I know, Father, but it's a sneaky, effective tactic. Guard our vulnerable hearts, Lord Jesus.
In the Name of Jesus, the only One worthy of praise!

Inspired by My Utmost for His Highest
Photo from

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011 - Parenting on Ice

     Sunday afternoon Nick watched one of our family's favorite movies while Tom and I took our ordained day-of-rest nap. When we woke up we tried to discern from the muffled movie sounds how far along he was in the plot. Suddenly, we heard a loud "BEEEEEEEEP!" and we knew exactly which scene he was watching. Nick had censured the one "bad word" in the film for himself. 
Nick Noland at the Riverside Ice Rink
in Little Rock. First time on ice skates!
     From the time each of our children were babies I've prayed one constant prayer alongside every other prayer for them: "Lord, make them super-sensitive to Your Spirit." Both children made Jesus the Lord (or Boss, as I explained it then) of their lives when they were four years old. From that point on, I had the Ally of all allies working in my children to shape them into godly people. I had already discovered even mothers can't force their children to do the right thing for the right reasons. And, even more frustrating, I learned mothers don't always have the right answers. Sometimes parenting feels like one bad ice skater trying to help a worse ice skater across the ice without serious injury to anyone. 
     Just this morning as Nick and I were discussing a potentially slippery situation I could have said "Do this. Done deal. Case closed." Nick would have obeyed because he's a good kid, but this response wouldn't help him learn how to listen to the Spirit in the long run. Instead of giving him a decisive answer, I explained his dad and I won't always be with him to help him know the right thing to do. I told him to pray today about what he should do while I pray about it at home. Guess what I'm praying? 
"Lord, make Nick super-sensitive to Your Spirit today. Help him hear and know Your Voice guiding him in what to do. Use this seemingly small decision as a stepping-stone of faith in his life to make him a spiritual leader. Don't let him hurt himself by going against Your Spirit. Don't let me hurt my integrity as a parent by teaching him to make wise choices while not making them myself. Keep me from assuming I know the right thing for him before I seek You. Paul was so confident he was right when he persecuted Christians but You told Him he was really persecuting You and only hurting himself. Reveal Yourself to Nick and to me today. Speak clearly to both of us and bring us to one mind in You. 
In the Name of Jesus, Your Son who was always one with You!
". . . And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Matthew 28:20
"We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, 
"Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads." 
Acts 26:14

Inspired by Jesus Calling and My Utmost for His Highest
Photo by Nick Akin

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011 - Be Careful What You Wish For

Red poppies grow as common weeds
in fields and along roadsides throughout Europe. 
     King Midas, of Greek mythology, was a good man who worried about the economic problems of his small kingdom. When the god Dionysius offered him one wish, Midas didn't hesitate: "Let everything I touch turn to gold." Before granting the wish, Dionysius asked, "Are you sure?" Instead of taking the hint and thinking through the pros and cons, Midas quickly assured the god this was his final answer and his wish was granted. 
     At first, Midas enjoyed using his "magic touch" to turn trifles into pure gold: bowls of fruit, knick-knacks throughout his palace, and even his chariot. When the dinner bell rang, however, the king discovered he didn't have as  much of a "taste" for gold as he had thought. Most tragically, he embraced his daughter into a gold statue. Fortunately for Midas and his household, Dionysius took the wish-curse away at the king's teary request.  
     Jesus asked the people sitting on the mountainside "Why do you insist on touching everything in life with worry?" He instructed them to look around to see how God dressed the grass on the mountain with wildflowers. He shocked them by labeling "worry" as a pagan practice that had no place in their lives as children of a loving Father. 
     What would Jesus say to us about worry if we gathered around Him on a flower-strewn mountainside? "Why do you worry about the world's list of must-haves? Why do children of our loving Father insist on having higher salaries, newer styles, upgraded gadgets, sleeker transportation, bigger televisions, higher status, and grander homes?  Don't you have enough faith to live gratefully and happily with what God has given you? Haven't you learned that worry and striving curse the simplest situations into self-imposed burdens?  I'm telling you the truth: you'll only know true joy and satisfaction when you stop chasing down temporary treasures and start striving after your Father's Righteousness. When you touch every need with faith in His loving care, He'll meet your needs from the inside out and your testimony will shine brighter than the purest gold."

Father, develop a hunger in us for Your Will and Your Righteousness above everything else. Your Will is perfect and freeing. Your Will teaches us to think outside our selfishness. Forgive us when we act like pagans who wring their hands worrying about what will happen and when it will happen. You are Almighty God who dots the dark sky with stars and the wet sand with shells. You hung flowering fruits on trees and cascading waterfalls in canyons. You designed the trees to change colors. You bring the soft snow and cause it to drip into crystal icicles. You fill our lives with beautiful blessings we fail to "see" because we're blinded by worry. Teach us to know You better so we trust You more in every way. Make us righteous and free us from the self-defeating curse of worry

"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe  you, O you of little faith?" Matthew 6:28-30

Inspired by My Utmost for His Highest
Photo by Robin Noland, Field of wildflowers in Monte Cassino Italy

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011 - Rumblings

Mt. Vesuvius looms in the background of ruins in Pompeii. 

    City planners laid out the port city of Pompeii with attention to detail. Among many other conveniences, they:
Vendors set terrains of hot soup in these built
in warmers to sell to people in the business
and judicial district of Pompeii. 
     *plotted the city in grids for maneuverability;
     *marked regions with signs and addresses etched into the buildings;
     *embedded white rocks into the stone streets as reflectors; 
     *built drainage features to redirect flood waters from the nearby Bay of Naples;  
     *designed an acoustically perfect amphitheater; 
     *lined the busiest sections of the city with fast-food restaurants for those who worked downtown;
     *encouraged and provided for the arts and athletics, making Pompeii a highly sought destination for merchants and wealthy vacationers.  
    In all their planning and building someone forgot to research volcanoes. There stood Mount Vesuvius in the background of their everyday lives, beautiful when peaceful yet constantly building pressure to blow. The residents of Pompeii didn't heed the warnings of earthquakes that had destroyed large parts of the city less than 20 years before. They chose instead, to rebuild, bigger and better.
    The obvious illustration is that people paid for ignoring such a power. Citizens of Pompeii were more concerned and prepared for floods from the sea, which happened annually, than with fire from the mountain since they had never experienced or heard of anyone else experiencing eruptions from Vesuvius. They built their lives on the premise of "If it hasn't happened before now, what's the chance it will happen during our lifetime?" They gambled and lost. 
    God rumbles warnings in His perfect timing. His Spirit hovers in us, calling us to turn toward Him with unveiled honesty to see His Power and our potential in Him. We, too, can ignore Him and continue building our lives facing the wrong direction or we can embrace Him in all His Power and Glory. Accepting Jesus as Lord means we've chosen to nestle our lives in His Shadow and we've given Him the right and Power to interrupt our regularly-scheduled lives with His stirring. Just because we haven't seen Him break into our well-planned, unimaginative devotion to Him yet, or crack open the skies with His return, doesn't mean it can't or won't happen in our lifetime.  

God of Glory, God Almighty, keep us alert to Your rumblings in our hearts. May we prepare for You to break in and cover us with Your Love, Your Power and Your Spirit. Keep us from underestimating Your Power. Please, surprise us today and embed Your promises into our minds and hearts. Transform us. Guide us with Your counsel. Help us look our weaknesses in the face and let You fill them with Your Grace and Power to do Your Will.
In the Name of Jesus Who will one day disrupt our regularly-scheduled lives to take us into glory!

"Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise -
the fruit of lips that confess His name." Hebrews 13:15

"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, 
are being TRANSformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, 
which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 
2 Corinthians 3:18

"Yet I am always with You; You hold me by my right  hand. 
You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory." 
Psalm 73:23-24

"But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace, was pleased. . . " Galatians 1:15

Inspired by My Utmost for His Highest and Jesus Calling
Top photo by Robin Noland, side photo by June Pearson, both taken in Pompeii, Italy

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011 - Where's the candy?

     When Julie was 18 months old and going trick-or-treating for the first time, we practiced the drill several times before ringing the first bell. My perky pink ballerina with the diaper under her leotard was a quick learner and practice went smoothly: "Ring the doorbell! Now wait for me to open the door; say, "Trick or Treat"  - okay, Twick Tweat works, too. Now I'll give you a piece of candy. What do you say? ("Ta-du!") That's right! Where do you put it? In your pumpkin. Yea! Good job!" We were ready on our end.
     Our first stop was across the street to Lola's house. Lola was like family and a good first experience, or so I thought until she got so excited about Julie's costume that she didn't follow procedure at all. She opened the door, oohed and aahed, picked Julie up and went into the house where she proudly presented my baby with a dollar bill. Julie looked at the piece of paper with the man's picture on it, realized it wasn't edible and looked at me as if to say, "Somebody should've practiced with Lola!"  She asked, politely under the circumstances, "Where tandy?"  At 18 months she didn't know she could buy any "tandy" she wanted with the money she held. It wasn't a gift she expected or understood.
     God, knowing what's truly valuable, gives us a gift we don't often appreciate or prefer.  When we're looking for the immediate gratification of a problem solved, a direction given, or a crisis averted He gives us His Peace
 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. 
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
John 16:33
      God will be going through the drill with me until I cross into heaven because honestly, I just want some problems to go away rather than taking the time to learn to let His Peace reign in me through the problem. Money in the bank, health, and comfort sound pretty good to me, but God says, "Wisdom, Discipline, Peace, and Strength of character are vastly more important." He knows my spiritual growth depends on me learning to depend on Him. He allows trouble to touch me because trouble drives me into His Arms. He paid a high price for the relationship we have with Him and He's not going to let a few pieces of candy stand between us. 

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 
When he found one of great value, 
he went away and sold everything he had and bought it." 
Matthew 13:45-46

     Father, considering trouble as pure joy opposes every fiber of our human nature. We need Your Wisdom to understand how this is possible and we need Your Strength to practice it. You love us with a love that understands our deepest, long-term needs in spite of what we think we need - A.S.A.P.! Open our hearts to accept the eternal value of Your Peace and Joy. Help us latch onto You in the middle of every kind of problem and even when trouble seems to have missed us. The world sees You as irrelevant, but Satan has blinded the world with the soul-decaying candy of quick and easy answers. Flood our lives with the Peace and Joy of remembering that You have overcome the world.

In the Name of Jesus Who has overcome the world and Who left His Peace which is sweeter than anything the world can offer!
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever  you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." 

James 1:2

Inspired by Jesus Calling
Photo from

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011 - Too Bright For Our Britches

     I have a confession to make, but please tell anyone you tell not to tell anyone else: I stay in my pajamas until it's time to walk through the door except on rare occasions when I've been caught running to the mailbox still in my p.j.'s. (Hey! the mail carrier shows up early in my neck of the woods.) My mornings seem to be one long train of thought and if I hop off the train, it leaves the station until the next morning. However, when it's time to be seen, I go through the customary primping and preening as I try to cover all the bases and flaws revealed in my artificially lighted bathroom. I've learned not to give the final thumbs up until I look at my reflection in the full, natural light of my car's rearview mirror. 
     We do a lot to make ourselves look better on the outside for other people but in the stark light of God's Love and Grace, all the cracks in our jars of clay come to light. Those cracks provide openings for God's glory and light to shine out of us but we don't want to accept our humanity as part of His plan. We try to cover the cracks because we're afraid if we let Him shine too brightly one day, we may not feel so shiny the next. We shudder to think people will label us "hypocrites" so to keep them from expecting too much or watching us too closely, we choose to maintain the same, non-attention-getting mediocre wattage by either dimming the Light or flipping on artificial light as needed.
     Scripture clearly states that God's Light shining through us is the natural outcome of Him making His Light shine in our hearts: 
"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made His light shine in our hearts
to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ
But we have this treasure in jars of clay 
to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." 
2 Corinthians 4:6-7
Hiding His Light makes us hypocrites. We can't produce the Light and we're not to hide the Light He placed in us. We're miserable and we become miserable witnesses when we attempt to diminish or brighten Christ within us. Looking openly and fully into the Face of Jesus means we lose control over His shining with ever-increasing glory through our humanity as we become more like Him (2 Cor. 3:18). Our spiritual goal is to look constantly to the Lord so we become too bright for our britches as the Treasure we hold pours out through the cracks in our jars of clay. It's a Spirit-to-soul transformation no other light can imitate or radiate.  
"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory,
are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, 
which comes from the Lord
who is  the Spirit." 
2 Corinthians 3:18
"But He said to me, 

'My grace is sufficient for you
for My power is made perfect in weakness.' 
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, 
so that Christ's power may rest on me." 
2 Corinthians 12:9
"Be strong and courageous

Do not be terrified because of them
for the LORD your God goes with you; 
He will never leave you nor forsake you." 
Deuteronomy 31:6

Lord, forgive us when we try to tone down or add to Your Light. Teach us to do as the hymn says and turn our eyes to You so everything else dims. You are soul-transforming, Glory-infusing God. Give us strength and courage to let Your Grace be sufficient for our weaknesses. We'd rather You remove or at least hide our flaws, but then we'd start polishing and buffing ourselves instead of looking into Your beautiful Face. Show us how to throw back the veil and open ourselves completely to Your Light. 
In the Name of Jesus, our Shining Transforming Treasure!  
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Inspired by My Utmost for His Highest and Jesus Calling
Photo taken by Robin Noland in 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Saturday, January 22, 2011 - Starting from Here

     When we snap on the leg-shackles of regret we plant our minds in the past and hinder all forward progress. How many of these sound like something you've snapped around your ankles?   
If someone had encouraged me, believed in me. . . .
    If my parents hadn't pushed so hard . . . 
        If I had only known then what I know now . . . 
             If I had been better with money . . .
                  If I had gone to college . . . finished college . . .
                       If I had answered God's call to ministry, to missions . . . 
                            If I had taken that job and moved away from here . . .
                                If I had been a better parent . . . spouse . . . friend . . . 
                                     If I had taken better care of myself . . . 
                                          If . . .(you fill in the blank)
     Regret says, "I missed the boat for Plan A and now, (sigh), I can't do a thing about it. I'm stuck with plan B, C, D, E, or worse" at which God rolls His eyes and says "That's a heap of unbelief in what I can do starting from here." 
"Turn to Me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; 
for I am God, and there is no other." 
Isaiah 14:22 
He is the great Unraveller of Messes, the Straightener of Crooked Paths, the Rescuer for those of us who are worn out with fighting the uphill battles with regrets pulling us downward, the Key Who unlocks all our restraining shackles.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 
In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight." 
Proverbs 3:5-6
God calls us to plant our minds in His Spirit, to anchor ourselves in Him and let Him show us just how high we can fly starting from here.                           
"But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever." Psalm 52:8

Father, keep our eyes fixed on You because when we look to You we're saved. When we trust You, it doesn't matter where we start - we'll finish well, exactly where You want us. Forgive us for our unbelief in what You can do through us. Stop our minds from going back, except to learn what we don't want to repeat. Carry us to the places where there's a good view of forever. 
In the Name of Jesus Who lived completely for You and had no regrets to keep Him ascending to rule beside You!

Inspired by Jesus Calling and My Utmost for His Highest
Photos by Robin Noland, Gulf of Mexico