Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - First and Foremost

     "Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way. 
The Lord be with all of you." 
2 Thessalonians 3:16
I've heard people say there's no more miserable creature on earth than the believer who's out of God's Will - and from what I've experienced and seen in others, I believe it.  Unsaved people can float through life living for themselves because they don't know what they're missing: they've never experienced the mountaintop of oneness with God.  However, as believers we've waded into His still, clear waters of Peace, tasted His Goodness, rested in the vastness of His Faithfulness, bathed in His Mercy, and babbled our gratitude for His Grace.  In the beginning, Adam and Eve walked in the Garden with God, putting Him first and hiding nothing. That's peace. Their misery began when they moved their trust from God to someone else, disobeyed God's command to put their desires first, and broke the trust He had put in them to walk with Him and enjoy His free gifts of life in a sinless world. 
     How do we find our way back to the peace of Walking with God in the garden?
1) Trust God first and only. 
"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
When we let this top priority slip from the first and foremost position by listening to other people instead of seeking God, we're in for a life of disappointment and disobedience.   No man, no woman, no preacher or teacher, no well-meaning loved one, and no spiritually charismatic personality who seems to have it all can be trusted to be right all the time about everything. We're dead wrong to expect perfection, or even personal direction, from people. Only God can live up to that tall order and my daily, moment-by-moment walk with Him builds my trust in Him as I see Him work in every area of my life. 
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; 
I will counsel you and watch over you." 
Psalm 32:8
2) Seek God's Will first. 
"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, 
and all these things will be given to you as well." 
Matthew 6:33 
"Then He said, 'Here I am, I have come to do Your will." 
Hebrews 10:9
I've found immense freedom in realizing I don't have to figure out new ways to serve God and He doesn't call me to accept every open position someone asks me to fill. He's the Brain and He equips and uses me to carry out the part of His Plan He calls me to fill.  Many believers wear themselves out by assuming too many projects for God while others never serve Him because they feel ill-equipped or because doing God's Will isn't "convenient." Neither approach has much to do with God. Putting His Will first means letting Him lead us to serve in specific ways He knows will transform our character and hone our gifts. 
3) Allow God to live through me.
"Like newborn babies, crave spiritual milk, 
so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 
now that you have tasted that the Lord is good." 
1 Peter 2:2 
"He must become greater; I must become less."
John 3:30
God calls me to nurture my personal relationship with Him to the point that He is Who people see in me. He moved into my life at my invitation and He's trusting me to make Him at home. He's not a temporary guest; He's the new owner.  No one else can plan my life or make my decisions for me. No one else can feed or satisfy me spiritually.  I become less and He becomes more.  He reveals Himself through me in unique and rewarding ways.  His love for me makes this the best possible and most peace producing arrangement. 
Sovereign Lord You deserve nothing less than to be first and foremost in our hearts and lives. Your Love for us is enough to earn our complete trust in You. Your Goodness defies explanation. May we willingly set aside our own agendas to walk with You and to respect You enough to hide nothing from Your all-seeing Eyes. 
In the Name of Jesus Who revealed why You alone are worthy to be First and Foremost!
Inspired by My Utmost for His Highest and Jesus Calling
photo from the family album

Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday, Memorial Day, May 30, 2011 - It's Just Common Sense

     As they were traveling on the road someone said to Him, 'I will follow You wherever You go!'
     Jesus told him, 'Foxes have dens, and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.' 
     Then He said to another, 'Follow Me.'
     'Lord,' he said, 'first let me go bury my father.'
     But He told him, 'Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and spread the news of the kingdom of God.'
     'Another also said, "I will follow You, Lord, but first let me go and say good-bye to those at my house.' 
     'But Jesus said to him, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.'"
Luke 9:61 
     Of all the people who crossed Jesus path the three men in the passage above remind me most of me and the rest of the "followers" in our churches today.  Expressing good intentions to follow Jesus anywhere, their common sense became a road block between them and their faith walk. Jesus clearly explained the costs of following Him by identifying the specific sacrifice each man would struggle with most. 
     The first would-be follower declared his good intention to follow Jesus anywhere in a burst of emotion and shallow devotion. Evidently, Jesus foresaw a young man who loved to sleep in comfort and who would turn back home the first time he found himself sleeping around a campfire, in a barn or in a strange place.
     Ahh, we do love our comfort and spend a good bit of time and money investing in comfortable homes and furniture. When we travel, we like a certain chain of motels because they're clean, comfortable and serve a good breakfast. Wandering from place to place with Jesus would mean exchanging the comforts of home for who knows what and it's just common sense to have a plan and a place to lay your head, right?
    The second follower was ready with a more plausible reason for not immediately following Jesus. The phrasing sounds as if either his father had recently passed away or was on his death bed. However, Jesus' response lacks compassion if those were the circumstances. More than likely, the man had an aging father with whom he wanted to stay until his death before following Jesus. 
     Tom and I struggle with being so far from our parents and families now that there seem to be more health issues and a new baby to consider. Caring for our families is biblical and honorable so we've found ourselves constantly clarifying God's call to each new church. We've had to live by faith that if God has called us away from our families, we can trust Him to take care of them when we can't. After all, it's just common sense to stay with and care for family members, right?
     Finally, the third follower said he would follow Jesus and asked simply for the time to run home and say good-bye to his family before hitting the road. What a thoughtful young man! He said the right thing to Jesus and wanted to do right by his mama so she wouldn't worry when he didn't show up for dinner that evening. Hmmm. I believe Jesus knew what mama and daddy would say when their boy showed up to announce he was leaving home to walk the streets with Jesus and spread the good news of the kingdom of God. They would've said the same thing this mama would say: "Have you gone off your rocker? Who is this man? What do you really know about him and here, baby, have a piece of Mama's fried chicken or a warm cookie while you tell me about it." Maybe the young man was counting on his parents talking him out of taking this leap of faith. Then it would be their fault he hadn't followed through and not his. He was simply being a good son because it's just common sense to let the people you love know what you're doing and where you're going so they won't worry, right? 
     You've played "third follower" like me whenever we feel God tugging on us to do something big for Him and we realize His call will cost us and the people we love. What do we do? We tell the common sense people in our lives who are least likely to support a leap of faith, knowing they'll throw the proverbial wet blanket on the fire of our faith so we'll get back in line and settle down and stop rocking the boat of common sense by taking unnecessary risks. 
         These three would-be followers represent three sets of priorities and excuses. Each of them allowed common sense to trump their faith.  Our priorities and comfort also determine whether we'll be ruled by common sense alone or whether we'll walk by faith. Living by "just" common sense shuts faith out of the picture but listening intently to the Holy Spirit teaches us to discern between choices requiring "just common sense" and choices calling for an uncommon faith. Jesus' call to follow Him anywhere is the litmus test of faith. He calls us to live by an uncommon faith that cuts out the personal "but firsts" we offer Him as just common sense. 

Father, we're full of excuses and we do love our comfort. Stretch us to be more than that. Forgive us for setting personal priorities above You. Teach us when faith should trump common sense and when common sense is enough.  Mighty God, rule us with Your Love and increase our love for You and faith in You. You deserve followers who follow through on following You. Fill us with faith to be followers with uncommon faith. 
In the Name of Jesus Who sacrificed everything to lead us to You,

Inspired by My Utmost for His Highest

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Sunday, May 29, 2011 - Pig's Feet and Flan

June, the day before she ended up in a Miami hospital.
     Today is my friend June's birthday and frankly, I'm just glad she's still here to celebrate it after watching her suffer with and survive pancreatitis a few years ago. She took me with her to Costa Rica on a mission trip when, while we were in the airport waiting to return to the States, she became violently ill. She was in so much pain I tried to talk her into going back into San Jose to the hospital instead of getting on the plane, but she needed to get home for an important appointment in the next few days. She survived the flight to Miami where an ambulance waited to take us to a hospital. 
     God used this hospital stay to teach us He's with us and in control. He put June in the exact hospital with the doctors who had originated the treatment she needed. God's timing meant she wouldn't have to suffer through that physical agony again. And, while our Father orchestrated circumstances to get June the best medical help available, He also guided me through a much-needed spiritual hospitalization using isolation therapy.
 I had no:
*clean clothes:  When the ambulance took us from the airport to the hospital we left without luggage. They delivered one suitcase two days later, but it was the one containing  all our dirty laundry instead of the one with the good stuff in it.
*communication: We had only enough charge in our cell phones to last about 24 hours. Both our chargers were in a suitcase somewhere at the Miami airport.)
*language: June speaks Spanish but she was incapacitated or incoherent most of the time. I speak French but there was only one Haitian nurse on our floor so I listened and learned enough Spanish to get help for June and to eat lunch in the cafeteria.
*comfort food: The cafeteria served Cuban food with which I wasn't familiar. Pig's feet and flan. Not a fan of one and grew tired of the other. Enforced fasting?
*support group: In addition to being hours away from family, a descending hurricane halted air traffic and kept June's family from joining us at the hospital. I've always wondered what people without family, a church family, or loving friends do at times like those and now I know. They're lonely and frightened. I felt the responsibility of helping June make crucial decisions since none of her family was there. At one point her lung collapsed and they came to get her in the middle of the night, leaving me completely alone to worry or pray. The irony was that at this point I had a charged phone but at 2:00 a.m. I still couldn't call anyone. The relief I thought I'd feel seeing her return to the room was short-lived when she returned on a respirator.     
   I learned it didn't matter what I wore as long as I wrapped myself in God's Presence. It didn't matter what I ate as long as I fed on His Peace and Power. It didn't matter that I couldn't talk to anyone at the hospital or call anyone as long as I heard and understood the Voice of "God With Us. 
"'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a Son, 
and they will call Him Immanuel' -- which means, 'God with us.'" 
Matthew 1:23

"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, 
rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, 
and overflowing with thankfulness." 
Colossians 2:6-7
Father, guide us to let You teach us when the dark moments come and we feel isolated or alone. You're always with us, always planning for us, always working for our good. Teach us to be grateful for every small blessing and for the big picture plans You have for us as well. Our heads say You're all we need but our hearts don't really know what that means until we have to prove it. May we sense Your Presence, Peace, and Power and hear Your Voice today.
In the Name of Jesus, Immanuel

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Saturday, May 28, 2011 - Feeling Small, Feeling Good

     One of my favorite ways to worship God is to feel small. I always feel small in the mountains or by the sea or under the night sky, but I believe Satan's outsmarted us into spending most of our lives indoors where we occasionally switch on the Discovery Channel to see God's great outdoors on our flat screens. Or, we settle for a lovely wallpaper background of the Rockies or the Bahamas to view on our computer monitors as if a photo can communicate the size, strength and majesty of God's creation. We view imported nature on theatre screens and at the IMAX. We decorate windowless offices and cubicles with nature calendars and we view the world we choose to view through our media of choice. Kind of shrinks God down to a manageable size, too, if we're not careful, don't you think?  
When we shrink our view of His Presence and Power in our lives: 
* We forget His sheer vastness and omnipresence; 

"For in Him we live and move and have our being.  
As some of your own poets have said, 'We are His offspring.'" 
Acts 17:28
* We fail to recognize and absorb Who He is;

    God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 
Who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, 
whom no one has seen or can see.  
To Him be honor and might forever. Amen." 
1 Timothy 6:15-16

* We don't stand in awe of why He counts our hairs and knows our hearts to ask:
"O LORD, what is man that You care for him, the son of man that You think of him? 
Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow." 
Psalm 144:3-4

* We stop longing for Him by becoming content with "our" world, and even compromise His kingdom standards; 
"Come near to God and He will come near to you. 
Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded ." 
James 4:8
* And, we pass along to our children and grandchild only "our" world instead of introducing them to God for Who He is and Who He can be in their lives:
"Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise;
His greatness no one can fathom.
One generation will commend Your works to another;
they will tell of Your mighty acts.
They will speak of the glorious splendor of Your majesty, 
and I will meditate on Your wonderful works.
They will tell of the power of Your awesome works, and I will proclaim Your great deeds."
Psalm 145:3-6
It's a beautiful day to get out of "my" world to explore the world God created. It's a great day to remind us of Who He is and what He can do. It's the right day to feel small and feel good about it. 
May we allow the Truth and Your Creation reveal Your greatness to us today, Father-Creator. Forgive us for shrink-wrapping You in portable packages. Help our spiritual eyes to zoom out to capture an inkling of Your Glory and Power today. Help us remember You have the whole world in Your Hand.
In the Name of Jesus in Whom "we live and move and have our being."

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011 - While You're Up . . .

"I am going to send you what My Father has promised;  
but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high." 
Luke 24:49

Tom's family grew up playing the dinner table game called "While you're up . . . " 
How to play:
1. All players sit down at the table to eat together. 
2. During and after the blessing, and during the meal, each player (diner) makes mental lists of everything they wish they had done or brought to the table before being seated. (Examples: turning out the kitchen light, getting a forgotten condiment, fetching a serving spoon, letting the cat out, running to the store to buy napkins, and so forth.) 
The Original Nolands
LR: Doug, Tom, Dad (Bob), Mom (Lee), Robyn, and Ed
3. All players watch each other carefully to see who will be the first person to forget they're playing a game and stand from the table. This player is immediately designated the "loser."
4. Other players "win" by saying "While you're up, would you please  . . ." (insert mental lists). 
5. The number of "winners" is limited only by the number of players still seated, however players can only be considered as winners if they submit a request to the "loser." 
6. Winners win the luxury of remaining seated and eating while "loser" plays "go- fer" and fulfills each request satisfactorily only to eat a cold meal, or to stand again as he/she goes to warm the meal in the microwave and thus starts the whole "While You're Up . . . " process again.  
    I'll bet the disciples in the Upper Room played "While You're Up (or Out) . . . " as they waited and prayed in the Upper Room in Jerusalem for those ten days until Jesus' promise was fulfilled.  I imagine it was a bit like waiting for the call that the baby's on the way. No one wanted to leave the room to get a bite to eat, no matter that stomachs were growling as loudly as people were praying. I'll bet there were some really fast runs to outhouses.  Can't you hear a couple in the back debating who's turn it was to go home and let the dog out because neither one want to miss the "power from on high" experience?  Can you imagine how sweet church would be if no one left until the "power from on high" had clothed each one? Sometimes I wonder why we're all so anxious to leave a place where anything could happen if we all prayed with the intensity and patience of the believers in the Upper Room. 
God, save me from giving up too quickly. I don't want to be the one who misses out and feasts on the leftovers of other people's experiences with You.
In the Name of Jesus, Whose promises will always be fulfilled! 
Photo from the family album

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Thursday, May 26, 2011 - Don't Forget to Breathe

      From the time our children were in arms I've read to them at bedtime.  These sweet moments have sparked conversations, laughter, bonding and good memories. Since our kids were both "night people" they became more talkative as the lights went out in the house.  During these bedtime conversations I learned what happened at school, what was on their hearts, and what frightened or worried them.
     One night when Nick was three or four, after I had read to him and we had prayed, I lay beside him trying (once again) to talk him into going to sleep.  He had finally stopped talking, telling knock-knock jokes, humming, and making the usual bedtime requests for water, a pit stop, a tissue, and for me to lie down with him until he went to sleep. In fact, he was so quiet that I had drifted into a light sleep when I felt him move his face very close to mine. I opened my eyes to see him staring at me intently and nose-to-nose in the dark. 
     "What is it Nick?"
     "Mom . . . Don't forget to breathe." 
     Oswald Chambers encourages us to think of praying as breathing. "If we think of prayer as the breath in our lungs and the blood from our hearts, we think rightly. The blood flows ceaselessly, and breathing continues ceaselessly; we are not conscious of it, but it is always going on."  Have you discovered there's nothing more natural than breathing, unless you're thinking about breathing?  When I think about the act and necessity of breathing it becomes a chore, a worry, an unnatural feeling when breathing should be relaxed and comfortable. Breathing rhythmically balances the drawing in of air and the expulsion of air. One little Scripture teaches us that prayer should be as continual, natural, and spontaneous as breathing as we balance "inhaling" God's Spirit, Presence and Mind and "exhaling" our praise, thanksgiving and requests to him. 
1 Thessalonians 5:17
"Pray without ceasing." (KJV; NAS; ESV; ESV; NKJV; ASV; KJ21)
"Pray continually." (NIV; NCV; CEB)
"Pray constantly." (HCSB)
"Pray all the time." (The Message)
"Be unceasing in prayer."  (Amplified Version)
"Never stop praying." (NLT; CEV; GW; NIRV;)
"Pray at all times." (Good News Bible)
"Pray unceasingly." (DARBY)
"Without ceasing pray ye." (WYC)
"Continually pray ye." (YLT)
Don't forget to breathe!
Praying is like breathing: there's never a good time to stop. 
Lord, make us childlike in our faith that there's no prayer You won't answer and no prayer too small to pray. Teach us to start by thanking You for every blessing and by praising You for every gift. May we move and have our being in You. May You be the very air we breathe.
In the Name of Jesus, Who never mentioned unanswered prayer
Inspired by My Utmost for His Highest
photo from the family album

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 - Loving Expressions

See the twinkle in my 98 pound daughter's eyes and her half smile as she wields the bat and fakes a "Take one step closer and you'll get it!" look? This was a pre-Addy picture, but I assure you the twinkle and the half smile would evaporate if anyone threatened that precious new baby daughter of hers. She would be a force to be reckoned with as she whacked and cracked skulls and it would all be from a deeply protective and instinctual love. That's the same face of love God also shows toward those who threaten and oppress His children. 
"At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you;" Zephaniah 3:19
"The salvation of the righteous comes from the LORD; He is their stronghold in time of trouble. 
The LORD helps them and delivers them; 
He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in Him." 
Psalm 37:39-40. 
Then there's the tender, joyful love we experience when we draw our children as closely to us as they'll allow simply to delight in their touch, their presence with us. Parental love knows a deep satisfaction when the young man we've raised suddenly shows an unexpected tenderness, protectiveness, or appreciation towards us or when a daughter touches our heart with understanding because she "gets" us  or shows she believes in us.  We'd move heaven and earth to help them, to make them happy, or to simply to hold on to the moment.

"The LORD your God is with  you, He is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."  Zephaniah 3:17
"In that day you will ask in My Name.  I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf.  No, the Father Himself loves you because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God." John 16:26-27
Thank You Father, for delighting in us as we delight in our children and grandchildren. Thank You for drawing us to You; help us let You swaddle us close to Your heart. Fill our hearts with trust in You to be with us whether we sense You there or not. Help us "get" You, appreciate You, believe You, and show tenderness toward You. Thank You for Your protection. One day maybe You'll show us how often You crushed those who wanted to destroy us or steal our faith. Thank You for being our refuge and for Your mightiness to save us! You satisfy our souls; help us satisfy Your fatherly love for us.
In the Name of Jesus, Your Firstborn Who showed us how to please You!
Inspired by My Utmost for His Highest and Jesus Calling
photos from the family album

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011 - New Math: Who Am I Kidding?

     Today will be an humbling day. I'm subbing for a high school math class and unless it's a class in which they'll be working on geometry (the only math above a fourth grade level I truly loved and understood. Don't judge me! The answers were hidden on the page and it was like working a "Where's Waldo"  a puzzle to find them!") I'll sit quietly in awe while they work those daunting end of the year problems.  Usually, I announce at the beginning of each math class "You're out of luck if you're depending on me to be of any assistance. Good luck and work quietly." 
      Praise God He has no weak subjects, no mysterious new math problem He can't decipher, no technologically advanced mumbo jumbo to weed through before He can help us. He doesn't have to read the manual or take a class because He wrote the Book and He designed our individual education plans. He's never sick, never out of reach and never leaves some spiritually-challenged substitute with us to say "You're out of luck if you're depending on me to be of any assistance." 
     "Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, 
who walk in the light of Your Presence, O LORD.
They rejoice in Your Name all day long; they exult in Your Righteousness."  
Psalm 89:15-16a
Teacher, Master - thank You for Your constant availability to us for everything we face. Help us face our day today proactively, by walking in the light of Your Presence and absorbing Your calming, peace-transferring Spirit.  Open our minds to receive Your Light. Fill us with rejoicing in Who You are and may what You do for us always be secondary.  Thank You that we never have to depend on luck or karma to see us through life. Your all-encompassing Power and Personality are all we need.
In the Name of Jesus Who walked with You as One and faced each day filled with the Father

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011 - Trail Treasure

     For the culminating activity of my third-grade homeschool French class's eight week study on la foret (the forest), I planned a nature walk.  To avoid the disappointment of not seeing anything for which we had learned vocabulary, I bought some fake insects and animals and placed them at different places along the trail: butterflies (les papillons), a blue-jay (un geai bleu), some caterpillars (les chenilles), a lizard (un lezard), a snake (un serpent), a spider (une araignee) and so forth.  The odd and blessed thing was that the students had a harder time spotting the fake animals for all the real ones along the path.  It seemed either nature was unusually active that day, or we were unusually alert with our binoculars, pens and notepads.  By the end of our walk we had seen all of the animals on our list except for "le serpent" - ("grace a Dieu!" - praise the Lord!).  My fake animals had to be pointed out to the students and served only as take home reminders of the real treasures of the trip.
     Jesus Calling reminds us that God has planned our path for this day and "There are hidden treasures strategically placed along the way. Some of the treasures are trials, designed to shake you free from earth-shackles.  Others are blessings that reveal My Presence: sunshine, flowers, birds, friendships, answered prayers."  
     Lace up your hiking boots and grab your Indiana Jones hat. Pack a shovel, your first aid kit and your Bible. Get your binoculars, a notepad and pen. We've got some exploring to do and some trail treasure to find. We've got a God to know better.
     "My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, 
so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, 
in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, 
in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." 
Colossians 2:2-3
Father,Treasure Planter, Lord of Heaven and Earth, Creator of all the wonders of the universe, God of Love, High and Lifted up -  keep us from settling for shallow or fake treasures and missing the real ones You've placed on each of our paths. Change our desires from earthly to heavenly. Help us identify true treasure and exchange our keepsakes for new experiences with You.  Wipe out our spiritual nearsightedness and remind us You're always working with a different perspective than ours and help us find and value the treasure You hide in our trials. 
In the Name of Jesus, our True Treasure in Whom is "hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."
Inspired by Jesus Calling 
Photo from photobucket.com

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday, May 22, 2011 - God's Prayer for Us

     You would think that in 2011, with cell phones, land lines, Skype, social networks, email, instant messaging, chat rooms, texting and Twitter, no one would ever feel disconnected or alone.  With a church for every taste in worship style, more variety in curriculum, Bible studies on every topic, and childcare for every meeting, you would think people would feel overwhelmed with support and nurture for their spiritual walks. So why is loneliness still a factor in our lives?  Oswald Chambers claims God uses seasons of loneliness, or the "solitary way," to answer Jesus' prayer for us found in John 17.
"My prayer is not for them alone.  I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You.  
May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me."  John 17:20-21
     How can God not answer His own prayer for us? He must and He uses our lonely moments and days to draw us to Him.  He knows we'll never choose the discipline of knowing Him on a deeper level as long as we have the option of settling for knowing other people in shallow ways.   
"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, 
that He may lift you up in due time."
1 Peter 5:6
"Jesus answered, 'I am the way and the truth and the life.  
No one comes to the Father except through Me." 
John 14:6
     The next time you're feeling a little lonely, whether in a crowd or by yourself, remember, "God will not leave us alone until we are one with Him, because Jesus has prayed that we may be." (Chambers)  
Father, You have purposes for everything You allow into our lives. You've called us to unity with You and with fellow believers. You prayed in human form for this ultimate answer to all our loneliness because You are Good (Why don't we try to know You better?), You are Love (Why do we make so much of lesser loves?) and You're interested in our eternal call (Why do we invest so much in what's temporary?)  Our choices don't make sense but You never leave us alone to figure it out for ourselves. Guide us to unity with You and with our brothers and sisters through worship today.
In the Name of Jesus, Whose prayer will be answered, must be answered

Inspired by My Utmost for His Highest and Jesus Calling
photo from photobucket.com

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday, May 21, 2011 - Hide and Watch

     Each time we move to a new town we learn new lingo, vocabulary, and locally-flavored phrasing. We learned all kinds of Cajun words and New Orleans phrases while in seminary such as "making groceries" and that "I left it over by my house" doesn't mean the forgotten item is lying in the yard. During our seven years in Red Bay, Alabama, I learned: "mushmelon" is a cantaloup, "dun" means presenting a bill to someone, that "walleyed hissy fit" is just what it sounds like and that "I don't care to" means "I don't mind." My favorite Red Bay saying is "You just hide and watch," which people attached to their predictions about what other people were up to.
    "You just hide and watch" makes good spiritual advice when properly applied. Many people will  hide and watch to see whether or not the rapture occurs today since someone predicted today as the day. Maybe it will and maybe it won't but you just hide and watch because it will happen one day.
      "You just hide and watch" applies when "we have a situation" in our lives.  God's Word doesn't tell us to handle the situation by pitching a walleyed hissy fit, beating the problem to mush by fixating on it, or by drawing up battle plans. God's Word teaches us He is more than capable to handle any situation and solve any problem.
"Your Arm is endued with power; Your Hand is strong, Your right Hand exalted."
Psalm 89:13
His Word also teaches us to stop "helping" God solve our problems as we hide in Him and let Him call the shots.
"In the shelter of Your Presence You hide them from the intrigues of men;
in your dwelling you keep them safe from accusing tongues."
Psalm 31:20
"But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, 
I wait for God my Savior; 
my God will hear me." 
Micah 7:7
"What, then shall we say in response to this? 

If God is for us, who can be against us?
He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all
 -- how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?"
Romans 8:31-32
Turning our eyes from "the situation" to fixate on the Savior may be the toughest assignment we receive but He will deliver, He will cover, He will be gracious. You just hide and watch
Father, put blinders on me so that all I see is You and how You're working today. Slap my hands when I reach in to help. Help me let You do what You want to do without my intervention. I love you for taking the whole situation from me. 
In the Name of Jesus Who promised us You're watching each of us even though we can't see You with us.
Inspired by Jesus Calling
photo from photobucket.com

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011 - Kicking and Kneeling: Keys to Light Heartedness

     When a friend of mine took a part-time receptionist job for a lawyer, she was told to choose the three days of the week she wanted to work. I was surprised when she chose Friday, but she explained, "I play on Fridays whether I'm at home or at work, so why not get paid to play?"  While I'm may not agree with her in theory, I do know people in general are more lighthearted about work and school on Fridays.
    What if we as believers applied this principle and learned to rejoice "greatly in the Lord" whether we're at home or at work? How would Mondays differ from Fridays if we disciplined ourselves, both bodies and minds, to delight in our God seven days a week? 
     "I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. 
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation 
and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, 
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, 
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels." 
Isaiah 61:10
    The two devotional books I currently use dovetail beautifully on the relationship between body and spirit. Chambers says dark moods must be treated by physical changes: "Moods never go by praying, moods go by kicking." In other words, showing either the pluck to get up and get out into the light or the discipline to stop and rest go a long way in improving dark or defeated moods. Sarah Young, in Jesus Calling, addresses the heavy darkness we experience when we allow unconfessed sin to sit on our spirits. In this case, Jesus calls us to step back into His Light, hit our knees and confess so He can purify us "from all sin."
"But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, 
we have fellowship with one another, 
and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin." 
1 John 1:7
Lord, forgive us for picking and choosing when we'll delight in You and when we'll succumb to sin and selfishness. Forgive us for choosing our own dark paths when You've shown us the Light and the Way we should go. Teach us to delight in You in new ways today. Forgive our sins and refresh our spirits. May we experience the lightheartedness of Your Joy today - not just because it's Friday, but because You purify us and have placed Your Light in us. 
In the Name of Jesus Whose followers need never walk in darkness again!

"When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, 'I am the light of the world. 
Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." 
John 8:12 
Inspired by My Utmost for His Highest and Jesus Calling
photo from photobucket.com

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Thursday, May 19, 2011 - "Beep, Beep!"

     Wile E. Coyote is the acme of "resilience, persistence and misfortune" among cartoon characters. Every Saturday morning of my childhood I saw his schemes to eat Roadrunner not only fail but backfire painfully. In spite of Wile E. Coyote's strong bond with the ACME supply company and his experiments with a wide range of complicated (but not foolproof) devices, Roadrunner raced on down the road stopping only long enough to taunt him with a "Beep, Beep." 
   Unfortunately for believers, Satan is smarter and more wily than this cartoon coyote. His arsenal of faith-crushers and testimony-stoppers may send straight and narrow "road-runners" into temporary ditches or off on the occasional detour, but in one way all his schemes backfire. While Satan attempts to convince us he can damage our testimonies enough to separate us from God, every believer who rises up, brushes off and gets back in the race is a "beep, beep" in his face. Jesus crushed Satan's slithery head by dying and rising again and today we can drop the anvil of Truth and Power on this persistent foe's efforts to destroy us by trusting and living in the victory of this promise:
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? 
Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 
 . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 
For I am convinced that 
neither death nor life, 
neither angels nor demons, 
neither the present nor the future, 
nor any powers, 
neither height nor depth, 
nor anything else in all creation, 
will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." 
Romans 8:35, 37-39
Father, praises to You for the deep love with which You hold us. You swaddle us in a love that won't let us go. You love us when we're ditch diving and detouring. You love us cleaned up and sitting in church. You love us when we're giddy and when we're depressed. You loved us in our most humiliating and shameful moments and You'll love us when we stand before You in our greatest spiritual victories. Our own crazy thoughts and stupid choices can't keep Your love from touching us. Our pride, as hateful as it is to You, doesn't stop You from loving us. Show us how to live today in the Great love of our Great God!
In the Name of Jesus Whom the world thought You deserted for a time, only to discover Him seated at Your Right Hand.
Inspired by My Utmost for His Highest
graphic from photobucket.com

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011 - Spiritual Botox

Unsure what to think about her first carseat experience.
     I'm looking forward to being back in a classroom today. Children keep life simple with their unaffected and uncensored responses. When they're angry, they steam and when they're thrilled, they bounce. Newborns like Addy (and you knew she would come up again, didn't you?) are the least affected of all. Addy cries her "Stop messing with me!" cry when someone changes her clothes. When she's hungry, she opens her mouth, turns her head toward the warm body holding her and hunts for her mother's milk regardless of who's in the room. If she doesn't find it, she expresses her disappointment and frustration wherever she happens to find herself. Addy also makes wonderful faces as she tests her tiny facial muscles. She can look like she's whistling or sometimes she lifts one side of her mouth and winks.  
     We adults have learned to practice making our emotional faces privately in front of the bathroom mirror. Most of us "grown-ups" have learned to exhibit enough self-control to keep us from being socially ostracized, but many of us have gone too far and have also learned to inject spiritual Botox into our faces to cover our spiritual immaturity or need. God prefers we let go of pretense in favor of sincerely "rooting" for His Presence. He wants us in "spirit and in truth" rather than dressed in self-sufficiency, sophistication or stoicism about our needs. He commanded us to come to Him with childlike trust to stretch our faith muscles. He tells us to keep His creation in our line of sight and to thank Him for the flowers and the birds as we did when we first learned to pray as unaffected children. 
"God is spirit, and His worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." 
John 4:24
"'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,' declares the LORD. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, 
so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.'" 
Isaiah 55:8-9
"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? . . . And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin." Matthew 6:26,28
Father, thank You for Your beautiful world that proves Your great wisdom, power and love for us. Thank You for the honesty of children. May we come to You as children with our needs but also with our simple praise and gratitude. Thank You for the trees, the flowers, the birds, the grass, babies, and spring. Flow through me with ease today.
In the Name of Jesus Who first taught us to call You Abba (Papa)!
Inspired by My Utmost for His Highest and Jesus Calling
Addy's photo from the family album
Daylilies photo from photobucket.com