Friday, July 29, 2011

Please don't give up on me!

Although the words were written thousands of years ago, they still  resonate with the heart engaged in honest confession before God in their request.

Psalm 119: 5-8 (NLT)
Oh, that my actions would conisistently reflect your principles!

Instead of reflecting how I'm quicker to worry than to trust, to gossip then to pray, to take the easy route instead of pursing the holy...

Then I will not be disgraced when I compare my life with your commands.

I am looking pretty good compared to some to the people around me, even those in the church!
But in Your eyes and compared to your commands I stand head bowed in shame...

When I learn your righteous laws I will thank you by living as I should!

Yes, Yes Lord that's what I'll do! I know your laws and I will live by them!
Until I'm tired, or discouraged, or stubborn, or when your laws seem just so hard...

I will obey your principles.

You know my heart Lord; I really want to follow your commands but I just keep failing...

Please don't give up on me!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Bucket or Hose?

I had a patch of thirsty flowers but the hose was all wound up nicely and put away and I didn't want the hassle of getting it out.
I filled up a bucket and dumped it on the plants; and whoosh, the water was sucked into the parched earth so quickly it was as if I'd added no moisture as all.

Well clearly that wasn't going to work!

So I pulled out the hose, untangled the kinks, hooked it up to the tap and gave the flowers the drink they really needed.  While I was at it I watered the whole garden thoroughly as there wasn't any effort involved as the hose was already in place.

I picked up a women's magazine and found an inspirational sidebar which read
"Your dreams are within reach"
"You're someone worth believing in"
"You can succeed. You should succeed. You will succeed"

So refreshing aren't they?
Like a bucket of water poured into parched ground.

How much sustenance is there in a sentimental saying?

Some, but how much more value are words of hope and truth?

John 7:38 gives us the means to be as channel, a hose if you would, of life to those around us. "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water."

  The Greek word for living here is zao meaning "living water, having vital power in itself and exerting the same upon the soul."

From where does this living water flow? What is the tap we must be connected to in order to provide such life giving water?

The Lord is the fountain of living water (Jeremiah 17:12)
To have access to such a resource I must be connected to God.

And sometimes that seems to be a hassle. To confess sin and renounce myself, to find time and desire to spend in God's Word and in prayer, to give Him control and dominion over every thing in my life; these are the kinks I must untangle for His life giving words to flow through me to help others.

But when they do, the effort is not of myself for God himself provides the truth and hope to the ones I minister too. If I'm not connected to Him I'm merely running back and forth, filling from my own ideas, mere buckets of water.

So today do we share a sweet saying like "You make a difference in this world" or words of life that communicate that the Almighty God, creator of the universe, sent His Son to die in your place so that you could be in a relationship with Him? Words like...

He saw you cast into a river of life you didn't request. He saw you betrayed by those you love. He saw you with a body that gets sick and a heart that grows weak. He saw you in your own garden of gnarled trees and sleeping friends. He saw you staring into the pit of your own failures and the mouth of your own grave. He saw you in your own garden of Gethsemane and he didn't want you to be alone ... He would rather go to hell for you than to heaven without you."

— Max Lucado
Which will it be? Buckets of our understanding and advice or letting God's living water flow through us because of our connectedness with Him?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Grab your shoes

I went for a walk this morning; after six weeks of lying in bed and watching the sun rise and thinking "I really should get up and walk", I finally did.

And as I walked I remembered one thing; I am the only one who can get myself to exercise.

I can read books, watch motivational shows, compare the pros and the cons, buy the apparel and the equipment, and be both encouraged and warned by people in my life but when it comes right down to it, it is up to me to lace tight my shoes and hit the pavement.
I am also the only one who can lift my hands to God.
I can speak the lingo, read the most popular Christian authors, wear the appropriate Sunday morning clothing and sing the songs but none of it makes me one who seeks God.  I have to intentionally lift my hands, my heart, to Him.

Psalms 34:15 says "The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and His ears are attentive to their cry". 
So we see God is waiting, but are we asking?
Are we crying out to Him for help, direction, wisdom, strength and endurance? Is there this personal, "shoes laced up hitting the pavement", kind of relationship and engaging with Him or more just a general knowledge and acquiescence of Him?

We control our hearts, our thoughts, and if today we will cry out to God.
Care to grab your shoes?

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Cool Place

 I am fascinated by my air conditioner.
(I know, simple minds are easily amused!)

I am amazed because it is still working.
Even though it's been running non-stop through a week of blistering heat, it's still going strong.

I keep expecting it to give out.
To say "enough is enough" and quit.
But still it is humming along keeping me cool and providing a place of refuge from the soaring heat and humidity.

I've always thought of a place of "refuge" as a well fortified castle with the drawbridge drawn up over the moat to keep out the enemy.
I'm rethinking that at the moment as I realize what a place of refuge an air conditioned room can be.

Coolness when it is hot.
Refreshing relief from oppression.
A place to breathe when everything else is stifling.
A place I need not worry about my survival and well being because here I can simply rest and know this is a safe and good place.

All of what is true of an air-conditioned room is also true of the refuge that God offers us; repeatedly offers us...

The Lord saves the godly; He is their fortress in times of trouble.  The Lord helps them...He saves them and they find shelter in Him.  Psalms 37:37-39

The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run into it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10

But let all who take refuge in you be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may rejoice in you. Psalms 5:11

The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Psalms 9:9

Show the wonder of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes. Psalms 17:7

Guard my life and rescue me; let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.Psalm 25:20

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalms 46:1

The next time you walk from the heat into the air conditioning be reminded of this truth - Our God is a refuge for us!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Beauty of a Soaker Hose

It is hot!
But I'm sure, that since 32 out of 50 states are under an excessive heat warning, I don't need to tell you it's hot.

Knowing the heat was coming and that I'd be away for a few days I stood with the hose deluging the flowers until their dry dust beds transformed into rich warm soil with rivulets of water.  I gave them a long, deep, satisfying drink hoping it would be enough for them to endure the oppression that was coming.

It wasn't
it couldn't be.

For flowers to thrive in the summer a single long drink is not enough.
The solution is a soaker hose and a timer - the guarantee of liquid nourishment every day.

Life is tough.
But I'm sure, since you're living life, you already know that.

A single moving satisfying spiritual experience - be it at church,conference, concert, or just an amazing insight from the Word, in all it's refreshing wonderfulness; is not enough. A deep drink cannot last over the heat of days.

We thrive when daily we draw from Living Water.

Daily grace for daily needs.

Grace to help in the time of need - today - and new grace for tomorrow, this is how we flourish.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
"The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "therefore I will hope in him."
The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him
Lamentations 3:22-25 ESV

New day? There is strength for it as the steadfast love of the Lord never ends.

If we seek Him, He is good to those who wait for him.

There is an unequaled refreshment in a long drink of His love; in times where the eyes of the soul are refocused on His greatness and the heart is lifted high in praise and showers of blessings rain down.

But when the skies are clear and the air around is oppressive God's love is still there; quietly alongside us and providing mercies for our needs.

So great is His faithfulness!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"I love you more than..."

There's this game we play that goes something like this...
"I love you"
"I love you more"
"I love you more than chocolate chip cookies"
"I love YOU more than snow days"
"I love you more than..."

On and on it goes.
Now if you're loved more than broccoli or homework that's not so great BUT if you are loved more than coffee (from me) or ice cream (from the kids) now that is really something!!

I'm realizing that this is also something I want to say and act towards my God.
"I love You more than holding this grudge."
"I love You more than treating others the way they've treated me."
"I love you more than this hurt, need for revenge, or following the desires of my own heart."

This is no game.
This is how God asks me to live my life, to love Him more than my own desires; to follow His commands more than my own intuitions or understanding.

To say with the actions of my life that "I love You more than myself."

Monday, July 4, 2011

Long Term Plans

There was a star blinking at me when I logged in this morning informing me that I had lost 5 pounds! Sounds great doesn't it?  Now this would have been amazing if it had been a week, great if it had been two, acceptable if it had been three but was downright dismal when it’s the result of four weeks – four weeks of only serving others ice cream, not taking the extra slice of pizza and turning down countless icy cold beverages on hot summer days. This was my big result? whoo hoo…

I really hate long term plans!!

Now granted, if I keep losing weight at this rate I will be in the vicinity of what it says on my driver’s license in a couple years; that’s something right? Right?!

Perhaps it’s me, or because I’m a product of the culture but I want it now. Via coffee, instant oatmeal, patience and maturity in a hurry – and put a rush on that!

And although I may not like it the lack of speed, there is great security and peace knowing that God has a long term plan in place for my life.

Nothing that happens in my life is random or senseless.

I may not understand how this fits but God knows how it’s part of the plan.

I was thinking about Job, who is historically known, as the epitome of a man with problems. But look at the concluding verse of the book of Job. “Job lived 140 years after that, living to see four generations of his children and grandchildren. Then he died, an old man who had lived a long, good life.” (Job 42:16)

I wonder what Job’s perspective was on his troubles a year after they’d ended, and after ten years, and fifty and a hundred… How did he feel about the problems that, when in the midst of them he lamented “Why didn’t I die at birth as I came from the womb? Why did my mother let me live?... for if I had died at birth, I would be at peace now, asleep and at rest.” (Job 3:11)

God has a long term plan in place, if we recognize what He is doing or not. There was a plan for Job, He has one for me, and He also does for you. The progress may be slow or seemingly stagnant but rest assured “He knows the way that I take and when He has tried me I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10 even if it’s just one baby step at a time.