Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Our Golden Ring

Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all peoples on earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen.” Rev 1:7

Well I must say that yesterday’s eclipse exceeded all of my expectations. No doubt I will never see the likes of that again. Just the realization that so many eyes across our country were keenly focused on the sky...waiting and searching…squinting to make out the first image of the moon. A few times I had my sight on the sun but the clouds rolled in making the sun disappear. But the childlike excitement that I had as the moon marched slowly across the sun’s face is simple unexplainable. And then, as if that wasn’t enough, we were left with a gorgeous bright diamond ring image. Bruce was so amazed by my reaction of the ring he even said, ‘You know you can’t keep that diamond ring, right?’

Well I am here to say that we all have an ever-increasing Glory who is permanently ours, and someday we will close our eyes to this world. We will awaken to the glorious reality of Heaven, and as we look upon our new home we will see the Son without glasses. There will be no clouds that move in to blur our view. Our experience will be eternal instead of a few seconds according to where we are. We will have daily fellowship aligned perfectly with God and Christ.

But until that day when my life aligns with God’s ordained days for me, I can still view the Trinity on earth. I can see God in my adversity even on the darkest day. I can try to exemplify Christ by being kind, peaceful and encouraging to others. I can have discernment and wisdom as the Spirit lives within every believer. We can have a daily eclipse if we live our lives sharply focused on the things above, spiritual things. May each of us focus today as we did yesterday to see that beautiful golden ring called the Trinity.

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God's right hand.” Col 3:1.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Total Eclipse of the Heart

For you have died to yourselves and your lives are hidden with The Messiah in God.” Col 3:3.

Well there is certainly much ado about the something…the total eclipse. It even has its own name…The Great American Eclipse of 2017. I wanted to understand it at its simplest meaning. The definition I found is that a solar eclipse occurs when the moon gets between Earth and the sun, and the moon casts a shadow over Earth. Although it doesn’t occur frequently it is all about alignment and perfect timing it seems. It is generating tons of excitement from coast to coast. It is a phenomenon that seems to bring everyone together today if only for a few moments as we all look up with our dark glasses to see the halo.

In a country so divided with hate and division, I wish that we all could focus on our own alignment…The Great American Trinity of 2017. I wish we would position our hearts to align with Christ’s heart who aligns with the heart of God. Yesterday in church our pastor said, ‘If you want to know God, get to know Jesus. He is the fulfillment of God’s mind and heart.’ In other words, Christ aligned His life with God and because of His sacrifice we are invited to align our lives with His. It is our personal spiritual eclipse that will impact our world…laying down our lives and becoming hidden in the life of Christ. When others peer at our lives they no longer see us, but see Christ in us. They see a shadow of Him being cast over every aspect of our lives, reflecting God’s heart.

I’m very excited about the eclipse today, but for me it is one more demonstration of the power of the Creator. It is not the phenomenon but the product of the One who is. Today, may we all discover new ways to align with the heart of God and Jesus.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Feels Like

"He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge...For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways." Psalm 91:4, 11.

I don’t remember an August where the humidity has been so high as this year. I try to walk 5 miles each day in the morning before the day gets at its most uncomfortable. Yesterday as I walked my weather app reported that while the temperature was 87, the ‘FeelsLike’ was actually 101. With every step, it felt 101, and with every breath I certainly believed 101 was my reality…but it wasn’t…my reality was that the real temperature was 87. Once I allowed my mind to convince myself that it was 101 my walk was much tougher.

How many times in life do we experience our circumstances with FeelsLike responses? For me, when my dad died it ‘felt like’ I would never feel joy again…but I did. For me, when my child became dependent on drugs I ‘felt like’ she wouldn’t live through it…but she did. When I look at my present situation I ‘feel like’ there will never be work again…but I know God has a plan for our provision. For you, it may be that your ‘Feels Like’ is that you will never find a partner…you will. For another, you may ‘feel like’ your circumstances will never change…they will. There are some promised unanswered prayers that to me ‘feel like’ will NEVER be answered…but they will because God said so.

God is reality and He knows what is up ahead. He sees us walking out our lives, responding and reacting to our ‘Feels Like’ temperature in our circumstances. If we act like it is 101 then our body will respond as if it is. We will feel like the temperature of our situation is suffocating us…overwhelming us…keeping us off balance. But if we believe God for all that He promises and focus on His faithfulness we can our liveswith more ease and comfort…one breath of 87 degrees at a time.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Phony Wizards

God did this so that… we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.  We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.  It enters the inner sanctuary…” Hebrews 6:19-20.

The Wizard of Oz will always be one of my favorite movies of all times.  One of my favorite scenes is when Dorothy and company tentatively approach the curtain.  They all have deep desires for their lives that they hope the Wizard will grant.  They have heard the stories of the great and powerful Oz, and have come in expectation of certain things.  The journey there was hopeful and encouraging as they discussed the good that will come out of the pursuit.  Of course, the hope that was at the end of the yellow brick road was a false hope…no real wizard…no real gain.

We as Christians also have a hope that will hold firm and secure in Christ.  But many times, like Dorothy we approach our own false anchors thinking it will deliver.  For me, one of my false anchors was the belief that if I pleased everyone then I would be happy…FALSE.  Another one is that if I bought this purchase or that purchase then I would be content…FALSE.  One of the biggest falsehoods was that the closer I got to God the easier life would become…FALSE.  I expose these not to show my disappointment in things but to better understand things that don’t fit into my life anymore. 

When we think of hope we must default to the anchor Who holds firm and secure.  When we are heartbroken we have to reach for the Anchor of comfort.  When we have been hurt we must reach for the Anchor of forgiveness.  When we are anxious because of our circumstances we must trust in the Anchor of peace.  We must enter into the sacred places with God withholding nothing…the inner sanctuary…where God will replace those false anchors with His unchangeable, immovable and unstoppable faithfulness.  ‘In our broken worship, we tie our hope to false anchors – people or things that don’t have the strength to save us…Let God use the seasons of pain, struggle, and uncertainty to expose the false anchors.’ Steadfast Love, Lauren Chandler, p. 19. 

Adversity will continue to expose my false anchors and whatever is not of God will become unstable.  Adversity proves every time that the only true thing of which to take hold is Christ…He alone is our Anchor.  God has set our hope in Jesus before us but will we take hold of Him?

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” Philippians 3:12.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Re-enactment or Recovery?

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” Philippians 4:8.

The other morning when I was walking I noticed two signs, one in front of the other. One was promoting and inviting certain people to witness a re-enactment of the Civil War. The sign right behind it was an invitation for all to come to a Recovery in Christ meeting. I couldn’t help but consider these invitations as representations of our lives – our flesh and our spirit. The quickest way to do the opposite of this verse is to turn on the television. Our country represents the counterview of how God commands us to think and act. The news media continues to re-enact ever little detail that supports their agenda. It truly makes me sick and I have very little tolerance for the news today on every side. I seldom feel good about being affiliated with any party because they are parties of re-enactment. Parties who want to point out at every turn not only new details but old details as well. Parties who won’t allow dead to remain dead and fresh starts to give new life.

In drilling this down, I know for myself there have been times when I wanted to recover from seasons of hurt. I wanted Christ to take away my resentment and bitterness. But instead I re-enacted it in my heart holding back that little piece that God wishes to heal. Sometimes I re-enact how I am chained as a victim while others are walking in freedom. When God wants me to depart from my battlefield I sometimes drag dead bodies with me. What do you re-enact that is putting a barrier between you and God? What dead bodies are you dragging around with you? What can you do to recovery in Christ instead of circling the same wars you’ve already battled?

Our greatest battlefield is the battlefield of our minds. Our verse gives us the remedy to choose what is better. When our minds start to post a sign of re-enactment we must measure it against this verse. Am I thinking noble thoughts as Christ did? Am I acting in a pure way exemplified by Jesus? Do my actions and words resemble the lovely and admirable person of Jesus? Am I praising God for who He is and how He continues to invite us because of His great love for us, healing and recovering us from past wounds? These are things to consider when we run into battle.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Oncoming Traffic

All things are legitimate [permissible—and we are free to do anything we please], but not all things are helpful (expedient, profitable, and wholesome). All things are legitimate, but not all things are constructive [to character] and edifying [to spiritual life].” 1 Co 10:23

I can’t tell you how many times while crossing the designated area below cars ignore the warning sign. It is state law that at this crossing pedestrians always have the right-of-way. And yet, there have been times that had I not looked up I could have experienced a painful situation. It doesn’t matter that it is lawful that drivers should yield for me. It is a snap decision on the part of the walker and the driver what outcome will happen. Will the correct person yield? Will the walker exert their right-of-way even when it isn’t beneficial to their health?

Daily we face the same decisions in our spiritual life. Someone has wounded us emotionally, and we must make the decision of whether to walk out mercy and forgiveness or yield to the temptation of bitterness. We exercise our right-of-way to judge another when their beliefs are different than ours instead of sharing our testimony. Instead of denying ourselves and our rights we carry our entitlement flag into the streets.

Our example of denying ourselves...bearing our cross…waiting on our crown…comes in the person of Christ Jesus. If anyone had the right-of-way in this world it was Jesus. He was and is legitimately the Son of God and was entitled to have authority over everything and everyone while on earth. But Jesus understood that His position and purpose was rooted and established in His Father. He did not come to earth to flex His authority, rather He walked this earth yielding to things He had to endure. He yielded to the hatred and ridicule of many…He had the right-of-way of come down off the cross and yet He chose to yield…to do what was profitable and edifying to man. He denied Himself over and over daily and put aside His own frustrations and fears to pull us in to His lasting kingdom. Jesus rarely took the right-of-way but gave us an example of how to yield to others for their benefit.

We can yield to others by putting them first. We can yield to others by offering a listening ear. We can yield to others by sharing our resources with them. We can yield to those who have hurt us deeply by showing them grace when they don’t deserve it. Yielding to others will not come naturally, so we must look up before we cross. We must keep our eyes on God and use our spiritual discernment when considering our on
coming traffic.

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Plate of Frogs

This is what the LORD says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. If you refuse…I will send a plague of frogs on your whole country…They will come up into your place and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses…and on your people…The frogs will come up on you and your people and all your officials.” Exodus 8:1-4.

One of the stories of the Bible that is most applicable to us today is the rescue of God’s people. They were enslaved in Egypt and were under the brutal hands of slave drivers. They knew their lives were not their own and freedom from their pain seemed impossible. Month after month, year after year, they cried out to God to rescue and delivery them. God being faithful to His word, and loving to His children answered their prayers. But not the way they originally dreamed. It never dawned on me until a few days ago, that the 10 plagues God sent that played a huge part in their delivery wasn’t just experienced by Egypt. The Israelites also experienced the first 3 plagues. The second plague was the infestation of frogs overtaking the land. Can you imagine praying for something so fervently and desperately only to experience hardship after hardship? God’s way is seldom the way we would choose when anticipating His intervention in our lives. Most times we will have to experience great times of testing to get to our answered prayers.

We all have unanswered prayers…dreams awaiting God’s fulfillment. Some of us are praying for relief from our medical struggles. Some are dreaming of a day when our circumstances will finally be different. Many are praying for those estranged relationships to be reconciled while others are praying for God to send work. We all have many challenges that need God’s touch…a plate of frogs that we must ingest. My father-in-law use to say that if you must eat a plate of frogs, don’t look at them for too long. We must focus on where our challenges will take us according to God’s plan. Our challenges and pain have feet that move us from flesh to spirit…spiritual toddler to mature believer…earthly wanderings to spiritual significance. We must keep our eyes on Jesus throughout our journey of adversity and understand that we must experience tough times to receive our dreams. You can be confident that whatever is on your plate this morning God has a perfect plan. God is not careless or random with the details of your situation. He is using every single frog on your plate to accomplish His beautiful purpose for your life. Just don’t focus on your circumstances too long lest you grow warts!

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.