Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday, July 31, 2011 - Everybody Wins

"'You are My witnesses,' declares the LORD, 
'and My servant whom I have chosen, 
so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am He." 
Isaiah 43:10
     There's something odd about Isaiah 43:10. Why did God say "witnesses" (plural) but "servant" (singular)? Was He addressing many individuals or just one?  Both.  God called individual Israelites to use their individual mouths and lives as witnesses to specific ways He had shown them compassion. He also addressed the nation of Israel as one body to serve Him as one body. Today He calls His people to tell other people the wonders of His Love as we go about our days doing the most daily things.

"He has caused His wonders to be remembered;
the LORD is gracious and compassionate." 
Psalm 111:4
He also calls the Church,the Body of Christ, to serve Him as a single-minded servant: to bring Him Glory and "to make His mighty power known."
     The second odd thing about Isaiah 43:10 is who benefits from our individual witness and our united service: "so that you (the witnesses, the servant) may know and believe Me and understand that I am He."  Remembering and telling others how God blesses us personally and serving Him as a united body not only brings Him Glory but reinforces our own knowledge of Who He is and our faith in His Character. Everybody wins when we witness and serve together: God is glorified, people see and hear about the wonders of His Love, and our own faith is renewed.
"Yet He saved them for His Name's sake, to make His mighty power known." 
Psalm 106:8
Father, forgive us for always asking "What's in it for me?" but thank You for the built-in rewards You promise when we serve You in the ways You call us to serve. Your Grace more than suffices. Your Presence lights our lives. You've saved us from eternal misery. You guide us in the smallest decisions and You reveal Yourself to us in unexpected ways. Thank You. Your Compassions never fail. We fall on You as our only Support. We give You glory for every blessing. Help us live for Your Name's Sake.
In the Name of Jesus, Who lived, died and rose again to make Your Mighty Power known

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Saturday, July 30, 2011 - The Bottom of the Deep Blue Sea

"The LORD is gracious and compassionate, 
slow to anger and rich in love." 
Psalm 145:8
"I will sing to the LORD, for He has been good to me." 
Psalm 13:6
Lord, I thank You for second helpings of Your Grace when I least deserve it and for Your all-you-can-absorb Compassion before I ask. Your unconditional Love and untiring Patience allow us to live this day with hope. 
How could we live with empty hearts?  Thank You for Your Faithfulness to Your own Character of Love, even when we're between sprints of devotion to You. From what pathetic substitutes would we be trying to squeeze soul-satisfying love if You were fickle? 
   Thank You for pouring Your universal riches on us: diamonds in the night sky, emerald trees, sapphire seas, pearl moon, ruby sunsets and amethyst sunrises. Father, You are the God Who gives all these blessings freely, and the God Who permanently disposes of our sins in the bottom of the deep blue sea,as far as East is from the West.
To You, Great and Mighty God, I offer this praise and thanks in the Name of Jesus Whose Grace and Compassion has given us eternal life to enjoy today.
"You will again have compassion on us; 
You will tread our sins under foot 
and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the the sea." 
Micah 7:19
"Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love." Lamentations 3:32

Friday, July 29, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011 -The Danger of Deja-Vu

     The mind plays strange tricks on us. Time and again, I've suddenly experienced a dizzying deja-vu due to the aroma of a perfume, cologne, food or building. This strange sensation occasionally occurs when I catch a milli-second glimpse of a scene that reminds me of another time or place. The other night as I was falling asleep I thought of my Aunt Ruby and suddenly smelled Jergens lotion. The human mind is a mysterious, unraveled gift, or curse, depending on how we use it. 
     Satan loves to use deja-vu to play mind games with us but he never brings up the good moments. He sends us back to scenes we'd rather forget and should forget, if we've asked forgiveness. He likes to see us squirm, turn red, tear up, and back into our shells where he knows he's safe from our testimony of redemption for a while. If we're not grounded in Truth, we fall for his tricks because he's the "father of lies," the master of half-truths. Just as we step out into usefulness to God and the Joy of our salvation, he holds our failures before us to shame, embarrass, discourage, and frighten us into forgetting the whole Truth. We've sinned and yes, we've committed some doozies, but these sins represent a mere fraction and only the beginning of our redemption story. 
"This then is how we know that we belong to the truth whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything." 
 1 John 3:20
"For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness 
and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves 
in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." 
Colossians 1:13-14
     Our Perfect, Loving God delivered us from darkness knowing everything we ever did, thought, thought of doing, or thought of thinking about doing. He doesn't condemn us for the battles we fight, but has rescued and forgiven us because we believe in His Son. When Satan sees us relaxing in the Truth, he zooms in on the one sin that haunts us most and asks, "Are you sure He forgave THIS one? Really? A Perfect and Holy God would love you and forgive you for THAT? Hmm." We give him the upper hand as we remember the sin and emotions rise to swallow us. 
     Wait. Jesus didn't die for us to live in self-defeat. We can turn off the faucet and stop Satan's onslaught with the whole Truth:     
"Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, 
but whoever does not believe stands condemned already
because He has not believed in the Name of God's one and only Son." 
John 3:18
"I write these things to you who believe in the Name of the Son of God 
so that you may know that you have eternal life." 
1 John 5:13
     In the Name of Jesus, back off, Satan. I'm forgiven - yes, even for THAT one. In fact, I'm going to use my failure in THAT area to help someone else know what a great and loving God we serve. Thanks for bringing it back to my attention, Beelzebub, now buzz off.
Father, why do we let Your enemy camp out in our heads? Toss him out on his ear and let Your whole Truth reign supreme. May our trust in Your Perfect Love be so great that we never question again whether or not It can cover our multitude of sins or the one big one.  Praises to You, Lord God, for Your amazing, all forgiving grace! Forgive us for underestimating what we've yet to know fully! We love You and praise You! Bless You for Your Perfect Love and help us be honest about our failures but just as honest about Your Love and forgiveness. I praise You that You're the Only One Who can be Perfect.
In the Name of Jesus "
the Son He loves, 
in Whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins." 
 

Inspired by Live Loved, by Max Lucado
image from Google images

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011 - Gotta sing!


"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us."
1 John 4:16

"We love because He first loved us."
1 John 4:19
     When Addy was six or seven weeks old, Julie called to tell me about a milestone in their path together as mother and child. 
Addy wearing Daddy's cap backwards in a Chinese restaurant.
Life's just one adventure after another.
Coco and Addy feeling the love.
     "I heard her crying and walked into her room talking to her," Julie told me. "As soon as she saw me, she stopped crying. She knew I would 'fix it.' She trusts me! It melted my heart!"       Julie went on to say that even when she took off Addy's swaddling and changed her diaper, that sweet baby didn't cry again, even though she was hungry. What an important breakthrough when a baby learns she can rely on her parents to meet her needs and "fix it," whatever "it' may be. 
     Little ones learn untold things through our examples and consistency. See my favorite picture of Addy and me to the right?  Notice how we're both squinching our eyes when we smile? She's mimicking me. That's my "I love you to pieces" smile and she's giving it right back to me. 
     We could learn a thing or two from Addy. When we find ourselves alone and hungry, the Word teaches us to cry out to our Father Who loves us. We're pretty good at that part. Then, God, faithful, ready, and mighty to save, stirs on our behalf as He's always done and always will do. Now, when it's our turn to quiet down, wait patiently, and melt His heart with our trust in Him, we continue screaming and kicking while He attends the most urgent matters in our lives.   
     Our Father loves us to pieces. He tends to us, delights in us and rejoices over us. We inspire Him to sing just as my own children and Addy have inspired me to write silly spontaneous songs to express my joy in them.  If we'll let His Presence and Love quiet us and draw us to gaze into His unconditional Love, we may find ourselves singing spontaneously and squinching our eyes to give it right back to Him.
"May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance."  
2 Thessalonians 3:5
"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
Inspired by Julie, Nick and Addy Akin
photos from my Priceless Collection

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011 - Do Your Ears Hang Low?

"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
     Our dog, Little Mac, agreed to help me illustrate the effects worry and fear have in our lives. He hasn't joined a union yet, but I'll see that he gets an extra treat for his help.


 
In this first picture Little Mac shows us how he looks when he's feeling alert, happy, and confident (in spite of the early hour). He's a dog who needs grooming due to either high activity or a heavy sleep and who's a little dirty from having some good clean fun in the backyard, but overall he's "smarter than your average dog" and lives to please. He's excited and curious about the possibilities for today such as a good ear-scratching, an extra treat, a walk, guests, a car ride, a good chase with Sonny the cat, a long nap on the cool wood floors or, even better, some bonding time on the sofa with someone he loves. His ears are in the "up" position, indicating his positive outlook but he's sitting on the other part of him that tells his story. Although you can't see it, his tail's wagging with the easy acceptance of this opportunity to help me.  
     However, watch what a distant roll of thunder does to our brave and stout Little Mac.
He's the first to admit that thunder can literally scare the poop out of him. His fear zaps his confidence and his ears hang low. He shivers with dread and can't be comforted. His tail no longer swishes back and forth in its usual carefree manner but becomes almost rigid, as if paralyzed by the "monster" hovering and screaming outside. Tom, Nick and I love storms so he's not picking up on our fears: it's what goes on in that little dog head of his that leaves him a shaking, anxious, inconsolable mess. Little Mac takes his role of protector for our family seriously so maybe he's worried he can't protect us from this unseen threat. Sadly, no matter how many thunderstorms we've all survived together, he still responds in fear and trepidation. You can't teach an old dog new tricks if he refuses to give up old habits . 
     Fear isn't the only thief that steals Little Mac's confidence. See if you can determine what feeling Little Mac's next photo communicates.  


Shame tag teams with Fear to leap in the ring and put in the final blows on any effort we make to fight. We crawl for the corner to beat ourselves up over what we can't believe we did or didn't do. To achieve this shot, Little Mac remembered a time he tore into the kitchen trash can and didn't clean up after himself.  His sin found him out and he couldn't make eye contact with us for a long time after his wild ride through the garbage. He stayed out of sight and skulked in the shadows. Retrieving this memory pained our forgiven dog, but he was willing to share it to help you and me avoid letting fear and shame control our lives. 
       Little Mac didn't want me to leave you with a negative picture of him, so here's one last photo depicting the complete confidence and peace that characterizes him 95 percent of the time. It's a dog's life.
  
Father God, Sovereign Lord and Master, You are our Protector from seen and unseen enemies. You forgive the sins that could shame us and You're the Lifter of our heads. Guide us to confess every sin keeping us in the background of Your Purposes for us.  Guide us to accept Your Comfort and live with faith in Your assurances. You've promised never to leave us or forsake us; may we be to You the picture of faithfulness to You and confidence in You!
In the Name of Jesus Who was high and lifted up so we would never again have to live in  worry or fear!
"Be strong and courageous. 
Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; 
He will never leave you nor forsake you." 
Deuteronomy 31:6
"'I Myself will tend My sheep and have them lie down,' declares the Sovereign LORD." 
Ezekiel 34:15

Inspired by Little Mac
photos taken on my iphone at 5:30 a.m. (Little Mac is not only a good dog but a good sport)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011 - Exclusively Inclusive

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:
to look after orphans and widows in their distress 
and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
James 1:27
"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on Me, 
because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD'S favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn." 
Isaiah 61:1-2
     Well, there's a list for you: distressed orphans and widows, the poor, people held captive and in darkness, people who are mourning. Know anyone who fits one of these descriptions?  Do you fit one of these descriptions? My heart connects to at least one of those groups. 
     Jesus chose and read this Isaiah passage in his hometown synagogue as a way to announce His Purpose on earth. His inclusive call encompassed and embraced his poor, hard-working, oppressed Nazarene listeners. They were accustomed to put-downs and insults. No one expected much from them. When Philip the disciple told his friend Nathanael about Jesus the Nazarene, Nathanael scoffed, "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" (John 1:46), but the way Jesus read these familiar words stirred a breath of fresh hope. 
     Ironically, after Jesus' hometown folks responded in amazement to His teaching, their warm fuzzy sense of community in the Lord turned into blind, murderous rage. What sparked the change? Jesus' warned them against excluding Him as a prophet because He was one of them. He used two examples of how the Hebrews had rejected God's prophets only to see them bless Gentiles. They were incensed at the suggestion that God had included those filthy half-breeds instead of their own Hebrew ancestors! How dare this young upstart compare Himself to Elijah and Elisha! Who knows which idea angered them most: the idea that God included Gentiles in His Plan, or the suggestion that Jesus was a prophet like Elijah and Elisha? They could accept being at the bottom of the Hebrew ladder but they wouldn't withstand any Gentile sharing their ladder or any of their own townspeople climbing higher.
     Human nature tends to include this family but not that one; invite that person, but not this one. We want to be included, but then we want to decide who else to include and who to exclude. Aren't we the hypocrites? 
     God's Plan and His Salvation are exclusively inclusive: no resumes, credentials, references, or social registry required. No purchase necessary, no small print, no fees, and no credit checks. No fraternity or sorority rushes or harrowing interviews. God doesn't do background checks, spell checks or grammar checks. There are no riders on His plan; He covers everything and everyone. There's no waiting, no list, no bouncers. We don't have to make prerequisite pilgrimages or perform rituals exhibiting our worthiness. There are no steps to climb on our knees and there's no penance we can pay or favors we can do to be included in His Plan. Salvation and relationship depend solely on Who we know, but He's already with us, waiting to reveal Himself and His Plan.  
   Let's relax and let the warm fuzzy feeling of belonging overcome our souls. Then may we open our hearts, our arms, our homes, our Bible study classes and our churches to include all of the above. "For God so loved the world . . . "
Lord, we're bad to huddle up and omit people. Sometimes it's because we're hurt and afraid, but sometimes it's self-centeredness or thoughtlessness. Heal us of all these ailments. Make us functional, compassionate people and churches. Transform our minds to put others first. Keep us from labeling people, even in our minds, as unacceptable or unworthy of inclusion. Teach us to build Your church through reaching out rather than reaching in. May we never ignore or exclude any group. We all fall in the category of "sinners who need Your Grace." 
In the Name of Jesus, Whose Arms stretched out to embrace the world
Inspired by Live Loved, by Max Lucado
photo from Google images



Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011 - Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting

"And call upon Me in the day of trouble; 
I will deliver you, and you will honor Me." 
Psalm 50:15
     As part of FBC's summer family night services, we watched the new Karate Kid starring  Jaden Smith (Dre Parker) who is the spitting image of his daddy, Will Smith. Dre moves from Detroit to China finds himself the victim of a group of vicious bullies. He's a lonely little alien in a strange new world until Mr. Han (Jackie Chan), the apartment building's maintenance man, takes pity on him and teaches him Kung Fu as self-defense. Kung Fu, according to Mr. Han, is not about fighting for fighting's sake, but an attitude that controls everything a person does, from correctly hanging up a jacket to respecting other people. 
     When the movie ended and victory floated in the air along with the aroma of popcorn, every child around us at church was either Kung Fu fighting or dancing to the music. The energy from the story came through the 2D screen to infuse us. After watching "Little Dre" transform from a frightened loner to a self-disciplined and focused victor, I was ready to kick my bullying fears and live to the fullest. 
     I don't know anything about Kung Fu except what I've learned from movies but Mr. Han's description of the Kung Fu way of life sounds a lot like how believers should live:  Christ's attitude should be in everything we do. We're to live focused, self-disciplined lives that honor God and demonstrate an attitude of respectfulness to others. We're to live in harmony with others as much as possible, but we're also to stand against evil and promote Christ's teachings. Peace should reign in our hearts and heads. When we live each part of our lives with Christ in heart and mind, with His teachings and Spirit controlling our attitudes, actions, and choices, we can enjoy Peace, Wholeness, and Joy, even on a Monday.
"The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble." Nahum 1:7
"Then maidens will dance and be glad, young men and old as well.  
I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow." Jeremiah 31:13
"You have made known to me the path of life; 
You will fill me with joy in Your Presence, 
with eternal pleasures at Your right hand." 
Psalm 16:11
Father, You're our Rescuer, our Teacher, our Master, our Refuge. Your Presence brings knowledge and joy. You walk with us as we walk through streets and down aisles filled with people who don't know You and don't live by the same higher calling.  Guide us to stand out as attractive aliens who depend on You for everything.  We choose Your path with all it includes because that is where we find You. May the Peace, Joy and Victory we  know in You reach out through our multi-dimensional lives. 
In the Name of Jesus, Prince of Peace, Victorious Warrior, Joy of Heaven and Earth!
Inspired by the Karate Kid
photo from Google images

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday, July 24, 2011 - Victory in Jesus

"You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed.
Such things must happen, but the end is still to come."
Matthew 24:6
Lord God, You lay on each of us what You know we can handle through Your Power and with Your Strength.  May we put on Your full armor to face down with Love every enemy who opposes Your Purpose. Strategically post billboards of what lies beyond the conflict, to encourage us. You have the only Plan worth our time and energy, the only Plan that will outlast life. Your Plans don't fail, nor do they fulfill insignificant purposes. Now we face a shadowy future, but we do so with You by our sides. We stand in a fallen world in Your Power alone.  Pour Yourself through us into others who need You but don't know You.  May we willingly and courageously face everything we fear with Your Power and Strength.  Revive us, Lord, and lift our heads to see Your Glory and Your Victory.
In the Name of Jesus, Mighty Warrior and King of kings.
"Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; 
though war break out against me, even then will I be confident." 
Psalm 27:3
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power."
Ephesians 6:10

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday, July 23, 2011 - Faith, Hope and Love

"Why are you downcast, O my soul? 
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God." 
Psalm 42:11
Reigning God, thank You that its Your sure Salvation anchoring us securely in Your Hand instead of our faithfulness to You. We have no reason for confidence in ourselves - none. Our initial reactions prove time and again how weak-willed and shallow we can be when we face faith-challenging situations. Forgive us for slipping into coping mechanisms instead of onto our knees to praise and trust You, our God, THE God, our only Source of Hope through the cross of Christ.

"For You have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth." 
Psalm 71:5

Pry our fingers from the idols we don't recognize as idols. Strip our hearts of the empty and ex loves that lead us into spiritual famine. Keep our hearts, mind and feet moving in Your direction alone - anchored in Your Love, saved through Jesus' death on the cross, and sealed in Your Heart forever.

"Blessed is the man 
who makes the LORD his trust, 
who does not look to the proud, 
to those who turn aside to false gods."
Psalm 40:4
Fill us with all joy and peace until we overflow with hope by Your Holy power. Let us experience what it's like to be filled with Your Holy Spirit. Bring glory to Your Name through us as we prove Your faithfulness to a skeptical world. 
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him,
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Romans 15:13
photo from Google images

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday, July 23, 2011 - Too Rich Not To Give

"Then Peter said, "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. 
In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazarene, walk." 
Acts 3:6
    *When you think of specific global problems (hunger, clean water, orphans, education, health) do you automatically think "I can't help because those problems require tons of money, and I'm concerned with how to manage this month's bills?"  
     *Does hearing about community needs make you feel helpless as you wonder "How much will helping out set me back?" 
     *Are you convinced that X number of dollars would solve most of your personal dilemmas?  
     If you and I answer "yes" to any or all of these questions "yes," we need to shake ourselves out of the idea that our financial income determines our compassionate outflow. In the verse above, Peter told the needy beggar he didn't have even pocket change to give him. (Did cloaks have pockets? If not, HOW did biblical people manage?) That's where most of us would have panicked, said, "I'm sorry, wish I could help" and walked on into church, but not Peter.  Peter looked at the need and gave what he had: a faith healing. He lifted the man to his feet and walked with him into church. 
   Although I don't have the gift of healing, I can be a healing influence in people's lives by stopping, looking into their eyes, and listening before I introduce them to the Healer. I may not have pocket change to buy what people need but I do carry the Power they need to transform their lives. My bank account won't buy everyone bread but my prayers can open the door to the Bread of Life for people without Him. We're not helpless; Satan just wants us to think we are. We're not poor; on the contrary, we're too rich not to give. 
 "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, 
just as in Christ God forgave you." 
Ephesians 4:32
"And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; 
the Lord will raise him up. 
If he has sinned, he will be forgiven." 
James 5:15
"Finally, brothers, good-by. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you." 
2 Corinthians 13:11
Father, You empowered fishermen to bring people to You through healing, faith, and testimony. We're rich in You as well. We don't have to ask ourselves what's in our wallets to give people Who they need. We don't have to limit or track how we open Your resources to others. Help us give ourselves away through kindness, compassion, forgiveness, and peace-making. Use us to bless the people You place in our paths today. 
In the Name of Jesus Who never offered anyone money to solve a problem

Inspired by Live Loved, by Max Lucado, and the book Try Giving Yourself Away, by David Dunn
photo from Google images

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thursday, July 22, 2011 - One Fell Swoop Or Bit By Bit

"All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves;
for the battle is the LORD's and He will give all of you 
(Goliath and all you Philistines) into our hands." 
1 Samuel 17:47
     A long time ago in a state far away I was a 38 year old post delivery mother who'd had a C-section in November but wanted to play on our church's women's softball team. Softball was my sport as a child and teenager but there was no way to get that traumatized body in shape to play by that first spring after Nick's arrival. So, I determined to be on the field the next year and planned a training program of diet and exercise. Out with the fats and sugars and in with nutritious foods! I would walk and work out with weights to increase endurance and strength. I even put the recycling bin across the garage to develop accuracy by throwing cans and bottles into it and I bought a new aerobic workout video.
     The morning I began my training, I was pumped and ready to sweat.  I put the workout video in the player, found my eye of the tiger, gave myself a pep talk and jumped into the warmup section. The first 30 seconds went well, but as I realized all this stretching made me tired and sleepy, I faced the possibility of losing this battle. My body screamed at the thought of standing in a hot field for an entire inning or running bases. I had taken on a giant and I lay in the floor wondering whether it was worth my time and effort to take him down or if it would be better to admit defeat before I started and failed. 
     When we face a giant that would mow over us without blinking, we must decide, does this giant need to go down? What is this giant keeping me from doing for God or forcing me to do that goes against God? And is the giant in my life one that must be completely destroyed (addiction) or one that simply needs reverting to normal size? 
     The giants casting shadows over our lives sometimes arise as unreasonable bosses, spouses with issues, strong-willed children, difficult neighbors, co-dependent family members, and mockers of our faith. A second group of fist-wielding giants represent themselves through situations that handle us instead of us handling them. A third group of giants grow from the rogues inside us of personal addiction, fear, poor health, controlling natures, pride, lack of self-discipline, and so forth. This third group convinces us they've been in control for so long that it's futile to fight them. 
     Is it worth the fight? Of course. Will we have the strength to carry us through the ordeal ahead of us? Only if we hide in the arms of God Who arms us with His Strength, makes us bold, prepares the way for us and goes before us. Every giant represents a spiritual battle that can only be handled in the strength of the Lord Who will bring it down to size.    
    David, with the Lord's help, took Goliath down in one fell swoop while it took me an entire year to slay my giant. It would have been great to have the weight fall off and the muscles tone overnight but the training and self-discipline I endured resulted in a great softball season the next spring. I even enjoyed the post-game soaks and falling sore and exhausted into bed.  Was it worth it? Yes. How much more worth the battle when it's something greater than softball. 

"When I called, You answered me;
You made me bold and stouthearted."
Psalm 138:3
"But I will sing of Your strength, 
in the morning I will sing of Your love; 
for You are my Fortress, 
my Refuge in times of trouble."
Psalm 59:16
"It is God Who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect;"
2 Samuel 22:33
Inspired by Live Loved by Max Lucado
clip art from Google Images

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - Planning An Addiction

"Be joyful always; pray continually; 
give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Open the Scripture cabinet and take out the prescription bottle labeled "Gratitude" with your name on it and read the directions: 
Take as often as needed for anxiety, depression, worry, sadness, self-pity, fearfulness, anger, and fretfulness.  
For best results, use a.m. and p.m. 
May also be used as a preventative.  
Possible side effects include: 
Restful sleep, a peaceful heart and a healthy mind. 
In extreme cases, unexplainable grins, smiles, and even laughter may occur. 
Should side effects increase to giddiness, contact the Great Physician immediately and thank Him personally."
"Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. His love endures forever." 
Psalm 136:1
"You will have plenty to eat, until you are full, 
and you will praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has worked wonders for you." Joel 2:26
"How great is Your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You."
 Psalm 31:19
An addiction to gratitude leads to healthy living. 
Lord God, thank You for Your timeless, enduring Love. Thank You that Your Love doesn't fluctuate. Thank You for not being moody or manipulative. Thank You for food in the fridge - God, You're Great! God, You're Good!  Thank You for a family of faith who supports and embraces. Thank You for friends who encourage and pray. Thank You for not letting us sit and grow stale and for the changes that challenge us to remember this is Your Kingdom and You reign supreme. 
In the Name of Jesus Who thanked God the Father publicly and privately
Inspired by Live Loved by Max Lucado
photo from Google images

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011 (Happy Birthday, Daddy!) - Triple Play



     Last Friday we celebrated my dad's birthday and I wanted Daddy to know I thought of how to celebrate his day, especially after everything turned out better than expected: people showed up to celebrate with us at the Varsity and the rest of the room full of strangers joined in to sing "Happy Birthday" to him, the rain cleared, the night turned cooler, the Braves won their 10,000th franchise win (11-1) and there were fireworks after the game. Yes, I came up with the perfect way to celebrate my Atlanta born and bred father. Ahhh! 
     However, I soon shrunk down to my normal chastised self when I woke up in the night remembering it was my sister, Crystie, who called in April and said, "What can we do to celebrate Daddy's birthday this year?"  Her forethought was the reason for our big celebration. She also made the calls and purchased the tickets and our brother, Tom, volunteered to take care of some finishing touches as well. The three of us teamed up to pitch in and do what we could to express our love to a wonderful dad. 

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, 
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life."
John 3:16  

     When I hear, read or think of John 3:16, I forget these words poured out of the mouth of the Gift Himself. Jesus referred to Himself in third person (ironic?) and kept the focus on His Father God.  He could have rightly said, "I love the world so much that I've come in unique form to save people who believe in Me from death so they can live eternally." However, Jesus didn't grasp for credit but pointed Nicodemus to the Giver rather than the Gift. He followed through on His Father's Plan and the Holy Spirit came later to put the icing on the cake, so to speak. Now Jesus sits at the Right Hand of God, exalted and empowered. His humility and submission took Him to the highest position in the universe. 
     I've got a long road ahead of me in still learning to humble myself and take a backseat to God's Will and Purpose. Thank God, His Grace keeps me on His team even if I end up sitting on the bench a good deal. 
     Lord, forgive me for pride and credit grabbing. We're all on the same team, all working for Your Glory. And, if we're not, bench us and get us back on track. Sharpen our sensitivity and foresight. Help us appreciate all those who pitch in to do what they can. May we be all about You and less about ourselves,
In the Name of Jesus Who pointed others to You,

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011 - Full Circle

"They will tell of the power of Your awesome works, 
and I will proclaim Your great deeds." 
Psalm 145:6
     As I drove down a rural road in Alabama one day, I saw cars ahead of me pulling over and people getting out to look into the sky.  I looked up and what I saw had me pulling over to join them. The bottom half of a rainbow hung in the sky like a bowl with another full rainbow encircling it like a saucer under a cup. Fascinating!  So rarely do we see any part of a rainbow but the top half arc that we forget they're actually full circles. 
     Rainbows represent God's promise never to destroy the earth by flood again. The rainbow's colors are eye-catching and its shape symbolizes God's unending faithfulness.  A rainbow's appearance is exquisitely timed around rain to counteract fears of an earth- threatening flood. 
     In spite of the rain and ear-shattering thunder in our lives today, "rainbows" hang somewhere nearby to remind us of God's eternal, encircling Love. Maybe today's rainbow is a particularly loud Scripture, a smile from a child, a streak of sun through the window, an encouraging phone call, a note in the mail saying we made a difference, or an opportunity for God to use us in a new way. The rainbow that keeps our heads up and our eyes looking toward the skies may be the memory of God's awesome works in our pasts and the assurance that His Love falls around us in a full circle.  
"Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; 
He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love 
to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commands." 
Deuteronomy 7:9
Father God I praise You for Your Love wrapped around us. May we stay in the blessing zone of Your Love, trusting, loving You in return and obeying Your life-giving commands. When we fail to find the rainbows You place in our lives, keep our hearts from turning to other "fixes." May we be people who live to love You and each other, as You've loved us.
In the Name of Jesus Who stretched His Arms wide so we could step inside the full circle of Your Loving Faithfulness
"'Praise be to the LORD, who has given rest to His people Israel just as He promised.  
Not one word has failed of all the good promises He gave through His servant Moses." 
1 Kings 8:56
"One of you routs a thousand, because the Lord your God fights for you, 
just as He promised. So be very careful to love the LORD your God." 
Joshua 23:10-11
Inspired by Live Loved by Max Lucado
photo from google images