Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011 - www.

Here are a few sites to visit for insight when we find ourselves wallowing in Satan's worry webs: 
(www.) why worry? when . . . 

www.Psalm 84:11.promises  says, "For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly."                                                  The ball's in our court to make every effort to walk uprightly instead of morally or ethically slouching through life;

www.Romans 8:28.promises reveals, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."
The ball's in our court to love Him first, most, and with every part of ourselves and to live out this love by fulfilling His purposes;

www.Philippians 4:19.promises says, "And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." 
The ball's in our court to discipline our minds to take every thought and need captive to Him in faith-building prayer;

www.1 Timothy 6:15.promises declares God as in control and able to stop the world's madness at one signal to Jesus to step out on the clouds and bring His children home, "which God will bring about in His own time -- God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords."
The ball's in our court to shine like a city on a hill above the world's dark deeds and self-destructive tendencies; and,

www.James 1:2-3.promises  tells us to "count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience." 
The ball's in our court to draw on and hold tightly to the penetrating, stabilizing Joy God stores in our hearts for the tough times. Every trial can be a stamina-building, faith-fixing adventure when we learn to look ahead at the end result.

Please, God, help us swing straight and accurately. May we love you first and with all our hearts. May we live out our spoken faith. Polish our hearts to shine forth Your Light into our dark neighborhoods and communities. Steel the faith You've given us when Life spikes trials at our heads and hearts. Brace us to live upright lives that honor and glorify You above all else.
In the Name of Jesus Who never missed an opportunity to glorify You!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011 - It Will Only Hurt for A Minute

     Every time one of the kids had to have shots, I took them for a milkshake if they handled it well.  This was no problem for my stoic Nick, but Julie earned her milkshakes. She was terrified of needles. Terrified.  
     Death can be terrifying in its mystery or it can be a blessed deliverance from pain and suffering.  Either way, we'll submit. Then those who've given Jesus the deeds to our lives will find Him waiting with rewards on the other side of that momentary passage. He made it through victoriously and came back to promise us death will only bring us closer to Him, His experiences,  and His likeness. So, Death, where is your sting? 
"Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch Me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." Luke 24:39

"To Him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." Revelation 3:21

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2

"However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." Luke 10:20

Thank You for the cross, Lord, where You suffered and paid my penalty for sin, but thank You for the Power of Your resurrection that conquers even death.  Thank You that Your Power flows in us and works against every evil.  Show us how to let Your Power reign in us today in our moment-by-moment challenges and decisions.  Reveal Yourself to us so we see You encouraging us and consoling us through the scary parts of life. 
In You own sweet Name, Jesus, because Your Power brought new life that will never die

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 - Teacher of the Day, Year, Century, Millennium, and Eternity

"Take My yoke upon you. 
Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:29

"He (the Word - Jesus) was in the beginning with God. 
He created everything there is. Nothing exists that He didn't make."
John 1:2-3
     I've been blessed with some gifted teachers through the years and I've suffered through a few less-than-stellar ones.  Sometimes I came into a classroom with bias toward or against the subject which affected my perception.  If I admired a teacher personally, he or she could do no wrong and I opened my mind to learn in those safe environments, often going the extra mile to please.  These teachers often, but not always, took personal interest in my gifts and goals. However, other teachers were a waste of academic effort since they operated solely to take their unhappy lives out on students.
     The teachers who stand out as the worst were a high school math teacher (not my forte) and a college English teacher (my minor).  The math teacher was a screamer who was angry about life, loved to throw chalk and erasers and turn over desks, and humiliate students who dared ask questions. The English teacher was more subtle and used a smooth Southern accent and steely sweet smile as a thin cover for her barbed personality and sarcastic putdowns.  Needless to say, all I learned from these two teachers was to survive in the hostile land of "life's not fair" which is a valuable lesson but not the algebra or English composition I'd signed up to learn.
     Our loving Rabbi - Lord Jesus, teaches from His perfect and personal knowledge of the Father and from His eternal wisdom as a the Teacher of all teachers. He knows His Subject and He knows how to teach the weakest student with gentleness and patience.  Our part is to let Him teach us by opening our minds to His Voice as the Word of God. We can relax and learn in the safe environment of His restful Presence and soak in all He knows we're ready to receive.
Sweet Rabbi, Teacher, Lord, thank You for Your down-to-earth way of teaching heavenly subjects.  We're limited but You throw down obstacles between us and knowing the Father. Our sin kept us in dark ignorance but You light the way, the only way to know God. Thank You for Your infinite patience with us. May we be infinitely patient in pointing others to You, to know You for themselves.  May every lesson You teach us stick.
In Your own Excellent Name, Jesus, we ask these profound blessings for Your Name's sake 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011 - Model Big Brother

"For God knew His people in advance, and He chose them to become like His Son, 
so that His Son would be the firstborn, with many brothers and sisters."
Romans 8:29

     I have a theory that most of us develop half our personalities in rebellion to other people's personalities while modeling the other half of our traits after people we admire. For instance, Tom and I saw firsthand a self-serving evangelist manipulate, demand, and act obnoxiously during a revival and since that time we've bent over backwards to give a different picture of Christ. For fear of being grouped with this man as Christians, we may have swung the pendulum too far the other way at times by keeping quiet when we should have spoken. We can't model our lives after or in rebellion to other people or we end up with a strange mix of personality traits and quirks that don't always makes sense or serve God's purposes. 
     God provided our Model for us in an older sibling to look up to and imitate in every possible way. Jesus equals perfection and God doesn't hesitate to point to His only begotten Son and say, "Be like Your Big Brother. Do the same things He did; have the same attitudes He had; speak as He spoke; love as He loved, and you'll never go wrong."
"Don't  you realize how kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? 
Or don't you care? 
Can't you see how kind He has been in giving you time to turn from your sin?" 
Romans 2:4
Lord God, help us know Jesus so we can be like Him in every way. Fill us with Your Spirit and empower us to have the mind and the humility of Christ. 
In the Name of Jesus Who is always interceding to the Father for us

Then they said to the woman, "Now we believe because we have heard Him ourselves, not just because of what you told us. He is indeed the Savior of the world."
1 John 4:14

"And in human form He obediently humbled Himself 
even further by dying a criminal's death on a cross." 
Philippians 2:8

"For we are God's masterpiece. 
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, 
so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago." 
Ephesians 2:10

Monday, September 26, 2011

Monday, September 27, 2011 - Satan's Playground

"God has not given us a spirit of fear, 
but of power and of love and of a sound mind."  
2 Timothy 1:7

"Great is our Lord, 
and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite."
Psalm 147:5

"The eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, 
to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him."
2 Chronicles 16:9

"But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him."
Hebrews 11:6

     Has your mind ever served as a playground for fear for Satan? As a young wife and mother I struggled with letting unwarranted fears rule my mind. If Tom took Julie off to shop for music equipment in order to give me time alone, I panicked if they didn't get back when I thought they should. In the day before cell phones, I conjured up grisly horror stories of car accidents which led me to call all the area hospitals.  My mind wreaked havoc on my emotions so that when Tom arrived home carrying Julie, he wished he hadn't come home at all. Fear transformed his usually quiet wife into a merry-go-round of outbursts: relief, anger, frustration, affection, and tearful wails. It took a while for the truth that my family was safe to sink in and erase the scenes I'd imagined. The two of them were fine, but fear made me a wreck.
     Fear should serve us like a smoke alarm. We don't search for the alarms and trigger them on a consistent basis. They stay quietly and discreetly close by IN CASE of an emergency. When a waft of smoke triggers them, we locate the cause, put it out, shut off the alarm, remove the cause, repair any damage, and continue with our lives. We don't  destroy the alarm, but we certainly don't camp out underneath it imagining what could set it off next time.
     Thank You, God, for designing us to break out in a cold sweat as we face danger and risky actions.  Thank You that fear is related to concern but doesn't define it. Thank You for this protective, temporary response that motivates us to teach our children not to play in traffic, too near the edge of cliffs or to keep company with those who do. You gave us fear as a healthy response to immediate danger and if we're of sound mind, we'll adjust our next choices prayerfully.  
    Praise Your Name, You didn't use fear to pave the path of Your will, but as the electric fences lining that Path. May we faithfully move to the middle of Your Will instead of faithlessly playing too near the fences.  May we trust Your Heart. Fill us with Your Spirit of Power and make us faithful from the center of our souls to the words that come out of our mouths to the actions our hands perform.
In the Name of Jesus Who taught by His example we can live without fear when we trust God the Father fully

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011 - Pour Out Your Hearts Like Water

     I may not be able to write this week because I'm off to spoil a grandbaby. Can't wait to kiss those sweet cheeks and see if I can get Addy Akin to laugh. 
     I remember when mine were this age when I would hold them and pray, "Lord, stir Julie to love You above all else," or about Nick,  "Father, mold this little man into a godly man." If you've ever poured out "your hearts like water to the Lord," you were probably praying for your family, for your children. 
   Yes, the crises will come and relationships will be tested, but as parents and grandparents we can't afford to wait until these hit us square in the heart before we pray from panic. We're to pray proactively and about anyone and anything connected to or affecting our children. We need to invest in praying beyond their physical safety into their spiritual safety and on to their spiritual maturity and leadership.  Sometimes we're satisfied if God will simply rescue our children from some dangerous or hurtful situation when we should be pouring our hearts out to the Lord for them to be current-changers and trend-setters for their peers. 
    So, while I'm with Miss Addy this week, I'm going to practice what I preach and pray for this next little one to be a light for her generation. Be back online when I get home. 

Rise during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up  your hands to Him in prayer. Plead for your children as they faint with hunger in the streets." Lamentations 2:19

"All your children shall be taught by the LORD, and great shall be the peace of your children." Isaiah 54:13

"The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and His ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns His face against those who do evil." 1 Peter 3:12

"The godly walk with integrity; blessed are their children after them." Proverbs 20:7

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011 - Formula One

     Today marks one calendar year of Prayer for All of  What a milestone of faith for me since I foolishly wondered whether or not God would speak to me day after day. Helping Nick with his math provided this formula to put things in perspective:
God's infinite wisdom  +  my need for His wisdom  +  the constant of change  = God always has something to teach me that I need to know.
A formula one race car (this is a Ferrari) has one seat and is designed for a changing track circuitous track which can be either a separate track or made of public roads set aside for the race.  
      We never arrive, but we can be grateful He's at the wheel.  We don't know what's around the next curve but we can thank God He's already there for us just as He was at the last hair-raising crisis.  Just when we settle into a routine and have life organized, someone cuts in front of us just for fun, but we can pass the grace of God on to them anyway.  New day with new challenges  + open heart = new word from God.  Life happens over and over again, but then so does God's TLC and Grace.   And, when life comes to a screeching halt, His Grace and Love will continue to flow infinitely through us.
Father, we're infinitely grateful for Your constant, tender love for us as Your children. You always have the help we need. You never leave us stranded. Help us count the ways You've brought us through in the past to ward off fears that You won't hear us or respond to today's needs.  Thank You for changing seasons that bring fresh reminders of Your love. Open our hearts and knead and knit Your words into our very souls. May we live today in Your infinite Grace and Love, knowing You'll never run out of anything we need.
In the Name of Jesus, Who assured us time and again the Father hears us and cares for us

"Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." 
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

"Timothy, my dear son, be strong with the special favor (grace) 
God gives you in Christ Jesus." 
2 Timothy 2:1

"Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart." 
Colossians 4:2

"With Jesus' help, let us continually offer our sacrifice of praise to God 
by proclaiming the glory of His Name." 
Hebrews 13:15
Inspired by Live Loved, by Max Lucado
Photo from Google images

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thursday, September 8, 2011 - Long-Range Planning

An acquaintance told me about her precocious four-year-old granddaughter.
   She and her granddaughter were in the car when the little girl looked at her and said in a mildly depressed tone, "You know we're all gonna die, don't you?"
    Grandmom said, "That's what I hear."
    The child, frustrated her news hadn't made the impression she was looking for, added, "That means YOU, too. YOU'LL die, too." 
     Grandmom said, "Yes, I will die, too, but I'm not afraid because Jesus paid for all the wrong things I've done, so I'll get to go live in heaven with Him and heaven is a perfect place where nobody dies or even cries anymore."
    The little girl nodded and almost smirked, "Yeah, I know all that stuff but I like it down here."
     THE END lurks mysteriously at the foggy end of the road we're traveling. We know it's there; we just don't know how it will play out for us, or, at this point in history, for a world of people consumed with disaster movies about the earth's impending doom. Will aliens or a meteor attack? Will the sun burn out? Will some angry dictator push a red button? Will a million weather-related calamities collide at once?  And, if the earth outlasts me, what instrument will catapult me into heaven?  Heart failure? Automobile accident? Cancer? Another human being? 
     The four year old was short-sighted and only partly right: we're all going to die but God promises to preserve the souls of those who trust Him. 
The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. 
Psalm 121:7

"But the LORD your God you shall fear; and He will deliver you from the hand of all your enemies."  
2 Kings 17:39

"He saved them for His Name's sake, that He might make His mighty power known." 
Psalm 106:8
     Time to stop wasting our time trying to preserve what others see and start investing in the part of us and other people that will outlive every calamity into eternity. 

"He who endures to the end shall be saved." 
Matthew 24:13
Lord, we cling to our toys, to our youth, to our glorious past and hopes for our future on earth while You tell us to let go of all that will stay here. We're short sighted four year olds who like whatever shines and lights up to entertain us.  You planned much more for our lives here. Teach us to let You shine  through us - especially when people face calamity and death. May our faith that You hold our souls safe from every evil be a magnet to unbelievers and a comforting assurance to believers.

Inspired by a new acquaintance

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - Star Struck

     We spent part of the cool evening last night star gazing. Nick asked me if I have a favorite star or a star I call mine.  I scanned the stars, but they all look alike to my untrained eye except some sparkle a little brighter than others. I can pick out the basic constellations, but my slightly obsessive personality doesn't need to begin learning star names and identifying characteristics or that's all I would do for the rest of my life and into eternity, I'm afraid.  Yet, God spoke each of those stars into place - not in a star wad but spread across the sky in an organized, purposeful arrangement. He must be partial to stars because He filled the universe with billions of galaxies of them.  That's a lot of property to maintain.
     Earth's moon alone causes me to praise God for His creativity and logic. We can discern craters and "lakes" with the naked eye from 16.5 days away by jet (600 mph). He designed the substance of the moon's surface to reflect enough of the sun's light to illuminate the night sky.  The moon's orbit plus the change of seasons provide our calendar so we can arrange our months and know which day the Lord spoke us into place. And, in spite of the fact that the moon doesn't produce its own light, it does have pull with the tides.
     Some say we should be moons reflecting the Light of the world and drawing others in to know Him. Others say we're more like stars, shining with the Light God put in us.  Whatever imagery we prefer, we all have our places to shine in the beauty and brightness of our Creator.
"The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their beauty and brightness."  1 Corinthians 15:41 
     Amazing God, You Signed everything You created. Your Logic, Your Purpose, Your Creativity stamped on the landscapes around us and the heavens above us. We bump into You every day yet never stop to recognize and ponder the Your miracles surrounding us and testifying that You've made us with Logic, Purpose, Creativity.  We, too, are witnesses of Your endless love for what shines and glows and reflects Your Glory. Polish us today, Lord. Rub off anything that keeps us from shining brightly as testimonies of Your greatness and Glory.
In the Name of Jesus, the Morning Star

"The heavens tell of the glory of God. The skies display His marvelous craftsmanship."  Psalm 19:1

"The heavens declare His Righteousness; every nation sees His glory. Those who worship idols are disgraced--all who brag about their worthless gods-- for every god must bow to Him."Psalm 97:6

"And, 'Lord, in the beginning You laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your Hands.  Even they will perish, but You remain forever. They will wear out like old clothing." Hebrews 1:10-11

"O LORD my God, You have done many miracles for us.  Your plans for us are too numerous to list.  If I tried to recite all Your wonderful deeds, I would never come to the end of them." Psalm 40:5

Inspired by Live Loved, by Max Lucado (who also provided the astronomy facts for this blog)
photo from Google images

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011 - The Mouse in the Room

"Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer  persecution." 
2 Timothy 3:12
     When it comes to courage, what's your worst-case scenario? Like the elephant afraid of a mouse, it may not be as obvious as you think.
     While the rest of the Hebrew army quaked before Goliath's vile tongue and menacing frame, David grew bold. For David, his own children seemed to be his "Goliath" because he never addressed what he should have addressed with them.
      Gideon was terrified of leading his own shadow, much less an actual army but God used him to lead a small unit to the brink of battle and he never had to draw a sword.
      Elijah stood on a Mount Carmel representing the minority of God-worshipers in the land and called down fire from heaven, yet Jezebel had him hiding in a cave and wishing to die.
     Peter drew his sword to defend Jesus among armed men of authority and power on the Mount of Olives only to cower, curse and lie to a group of servants in the courtyard outside Jesus' interrogation chamber. 
     "Though I speak with the tongue of men and angels," before crowds of people, I may find loving one other person the most courageous thing God calls me to do.
     "Though I give everything I own to the poor" and trust God to take care of all my needs, I may find I'm really afraid of not doing enough to deserve God's attention or salvation.
    The disciples who hid when Jesus was arrested and crucified became the very men who couldn't keep their mouths shut about Jesus after His resurrection. 
     "We cannot stop telling about the wonderful things we have seen and heard." (Acts 4:20)
     Why couldn't they stop? Because they had spent time with the resurrected Jesus and the words falling from lips that had been stilled in death sank into their core with a whole new perspective of His Power and Purpose. 
     The next time people sneer at your faith, insult your intelligence, boldly state their atheism, or become belligerent at the mention of Christianity, remember their own fear that they're terribly wrong drives them to nip at you and yours.  They haven't met Jesus' or looked into His compassionate Heart to see themselves as He sees them.  We won't win anyone with a spirit of fear so let's forget the opposition and take our position at Jesus' feet.

"But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don't be afraid and don't worry. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But you must do this in a gentle and respectful way." 1 Peter 3:14

"I command you -- be strong and courageous! 
Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go." 
Joshua 1:9

"Say to those who are afraid, 
'Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. 
He is coming to save you.'" 
Isaiah 35:4 

Monday, September 5, 2011

Monday, September 5, 2011 ( Happy Labor Day) - Greater Expectations

     My imagination and a book by a favorite author fit together like a hand in a glove. I read the words of David Copperfield as a 12 year old but completely missed Dicken's extraordinary humor and caricatures, catching only the depressing darkness of poor David's childhood. However, I re-read the novel as an adult and laughed and cried in all the right places. 
   During a three week battle with shingles in the left side of my head I found some relief burrowing into Great Expectations, and this time I was ready for any mood Dickens evoked. The story came alive for me; the characters had me talking to them. I hated Mrs.Joe, was mesmerized by Miss Havisham, and loved to visit the Pocket family with Pip. I sank myself so thoroughly into Pip's life and relationships that I had to remind myself they weren't real so I wouldn't embarrass myself like the lady at Wednesday night prayer meeting who asked prayer for her favorite soap stars. 
     The Author of Truth's Book never changes, but connects with us as we mature and let ourselves sink into what He's written. His Word, like an excellent teacher, presents what we're ready to learn.  As a 10-year-old, I could quote "It is more blessed to give than to receive," and as I tried out this dubious promise, I found it was true for me personally.  As a 20-year old, I didn't trust God to put His words in my mouth as His Word promised, but kept myself tied up in knots over what I would say to people. Now, after years of lessons, I understand He times His answers for His Glory and to keep me close to Him. Even as a 30 year old I didn't "waste God's time" asking for little things I thought He would see as "selfish," but His unending responses to my simplest prayers prove He means for me to pray about everything just as His Living Word declares in Philippians 4:6. He'll decide what's selfish and what He can use for His Glory. Because He's faithful to His Word in 2011, each year I read His Word with greater expectation. 
"Let the words of Christ, in all their richness, live in your hearts and make you wise. 
Use His words to teach and counsel each other.                                                            Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 
And whatever you do or say, let it be as a representative of the Lord Jesus,
all the while giving thanks through Him to God the Father." 
 Colossians 3:16 

"Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be happy." Proverbs 16:20

"Those who love Your law have great peace and do not stumble. Psalm 119:165
My prayer today, Lord, is David's prayer:
"You made me; You created me. 
Now give me the sense to follow Your commands." 
Psalm 119:73
In the Name of Jesus, the Living Word Who came to prove all God's Love and Faithfulness to us!

Scripture quoted is from the New Living Translation
photo from Google images

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday, September 4, 2011 - Emergency Contact List

     Since we've moved to our new address we've received phone books from several different companies, as well as plenty of advertising targeting the specific needs of new home owners. Phone books are helpful, however, when a crisis arises, it's best to have a list of numbers handy to avoid spending precious seconds nervously thumbing through a phone book. This list is called "favorites" or frequently dialed numbers on a cell phone.

     Max Lucado's devotional today provides a directory for spiritual crises we should memorize, keep under "favorites," or at least keep handy:

*Big problem won't budge:  Ephesians 3:20: "Now to Him Who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us." 

*Large hole needs filling: 2 Corinthians 9:8: "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work."

*Temptation hotline:   Hebrews 2:18: "Because He Himself suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted." 

*In pit, need a lift: Hebrews 7:25: "Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them." 

*Courage button malfunction: Jude 24:  "To Him Who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy"

*Hostile bully making life miserable: Philippians 3:21: "Who, by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body." 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Saturday, September 3, 2011 - Why Be Captivated?

"May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer --- may her breasts satisfy you always.

Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man's wife? For a man's ways are in full view of the LORD, and He examines all His paths." 
Proverbs 5:18-21
"But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself." Proverbs 6:32
     For my grandmother, it was Dean Martin. For my mom, Paul Newman. For me - well, I can't think of just one. I have an embarrassingly long list of favorite movies featuring top shelf, out-of-reach eye candy. 
     Solomon, the child produced from a union that began as an adulterous affair between David and Bathsheba, warned his own son to run from adulterous eyes that flirt and invite.  He'd heard from at least his mother and his father that a supposedly simple one-night-stand can take people to dark places they never intended to go and bring out weaknesses no one wants to discover they have.  Scripture teaches that casual sex leads to intensely painful consequences for the two involved, for their families, the community, and society in general.  You and I both know families who've paid dearly for someone's unfaithfulness, and if we could, we would delete those scenes.  
     Solomon's wise phrasing "Why be captivated?" indicates that at some point we consciously decide to be captivated. We're not helpless victims doomed to respond to every instinct, overpowered by the need to fall into the next available relationship or bed.  We choose our chains because no one-night-stand "just happens" unless the two people involved allow and encourage it to "just happen."  Instead of using our eyes to flirt with and devour eye candy, God calls us to feed our marriage relationships that once, and can again, captivate our hearts and nourish our souls. We can choose intentionally to be captivated by the one we've already chosen.

Father, guide us to feed our families' souls by nourishing our marriages. May we be faithful to our spouses in our hearts and allow them to captivate us while we do our best to captivate them.  Show us how; teach us to love in action and secure our homes. May our children and grandchildren see relationships they want to experience for themselves. Help us raise the bar. 
In the Name of Jesus who blessed a marriage celebration with His first miracle!
Inspired by Live Loved, by Max Lucado
clip art from Google images

Friday, September 2, 2011

Friday, September 2,2011 - Afraid to Look

     Somewhere in my college memories is the picture of a teacher or professor who opened his desk drawer and took a swig of Dr. Tichenor's before and after each class. It was a Southern Baptist college and I'm SURE the man thought he was just freshening his breath, but with the percentage of alcohol in that particular concoction it's pretty obvious he was looking for courage in that drawer. Maybe he taught so long with so few results that it took courage to teach one more class instead of running past the library barefoot toward Midlife Crisis or Retirement Beach. Or, maybe he was one of those introvert brainiacs who discovered too late his knowledge would only provide a living if he faced his worst fear of public speaking several times a day.  
     God's path for us takes us to scary places, but like the guy who takes his girlfriend to a scary movie, He wants us to move closer to Him. Don't move away from Him when you're too afraid to look; move in closer and absorb His courage or hide your face in His shoulder. He smiles every time you do. 
"But Jesus immediately said to them: 'Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid.'" 
Matthew 14:27
"and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. 
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." 
Matthew 28:20
"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 8:38
"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."
1 John 3:18

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Thursday, September 1, 2011 - How Low Can You Go?

 "For the pagans run after all these things, 
and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, 
and all these things will be given to you as well."
Matthew 6:32-33  
   Our 2nd Grade Choir started learning a song last night called "Get Down." Do you know how many ways we believers can "get down" in the Lord?
     1) We can dance our socks off in praise to God, or,
     2) We have a bad day, a sad day, a mad day and we "get down" on ourselves, on others, or in our spirits, or,
     3) We voluntarily humble ourselves and "get down" at Jesus' Feet to learn His ways then follow through by getting to the end of the line and putting God's priorities first, other people's needs second and our own desires last.   
     An amazing thing happens when we throw ourselves down at His feet in any of these situations: He lifts us up.  
"To win, you've got to come in last place.  
To live your life, you've got to lose it. 
All the losers get a crown.
I get down and He lifts me up; I get down and He lifts me up; I get down and He lifts me up, I get down."
   "In your weakness, He is stronger. In your darkness, He shines through.
   When you're cryin', He's your comfort. When you're all alone, He's carrying you.
I get down and He lifts me up; I get down and He lifts me up; I get down and He lifts me up, I get down."                                          (Selected lines from the song Get Down by Mark Stuart, Will McGinniss, Bob Herdman, Ben Cissell and Tyler Burkum.) 

    How low can you go today, sweet friend? You might want to consider any fear of heights before you kick in the humility full force.

"Many peoples will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in His paths.'
The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem." 
Isaiah 2:3

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." 
Philippians 1:21

"A man's steps are directed by the LORD.
How then can anyone understand his own way?" 
Proverbs 20:24

To hear this catchy, upbeat song and watch the video that goes with it go to:
Video to "Get Down" by Audio Adrenaline

Lord, God, Your call for us to live like Christ turns our worlds upside down.  Help us cut our selfishness down to size so You can lift us up.  Help us when we get down because of overwhelming burdens, fears, needs, or failures.  And finally, Lord, help us let You free us to "get down" with serious, foot-tapping, heart pumping praise for You.  You delight us with Your Wisdom.  May we live for You today and go as low as You call us to go,
In the Name of Jesus Who humbled Himself to lift us to new heights