Tag Archives: spirituality

Something For Nothing

“Consider carefully what you hear,” he continued.  “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—-and even more.”  Mark 4:24

Years ago I built a screened-in back porch onto our house.  I had never done anything like that before, but I knew I could — if I only set my mind to it.  And boy did I do just that!  It went on for days, weeks and possibly months before I lifted a hammer or purchased a board.  Night after night I remember laying in bed and dreaming about that porch.  As soon as I ran into a problem, I would spend my time solving it first before moving on to laying the next imaginary board.  I would go out back to spot check the site after work and relive the experience in my own mind and mentally envision the progress being made.  It was taking great shape and looking good!  Before laying a hand on a real hammer, I must have built that porch five or six times over.  It was all I thought about.

Since then, I have learned a great deal about myself in that I think long and hard about many things.  I rarely jump into a project without “thinking it through” first.  Sometimes that takes weeks or months.  I’m thinking of demands, outcomes, benefits, value, purpose, risk, worth and level of difficulty to only name a few. It’s a great gift, but a horrible curse if abused.

The things I hear are those things I think about most.  And the things I chose to think about grow out of the seeds of knowledge I plant within my mind through my eyes and ears.  The more I read of God’s Word the more I begin to think, both day and night, of the Truths from those pages.  In essence, Mark is telling us in chapter 4 that I will get out of the Word what I put into reading the Word.  There is nothing more true than that — trust me — I know!!

So unlike much of my life, God’s Word is ringing in my ears now — literally!  It’s fresh and new, because it’s what I’m thinking about!  Israel was commanded by God to never forget Him once they reached the promised land (Deuteronomy 6).  God encouraged His people then to speak about Him always to their children, write about Him on their door frames and wear symbols to remind them of His presence always! There was a reason then . . . and there is a reason now!

Lord Jesus, it refreshes my soul to think of you night and day and your presence is overwhelming.  Not in a way that burdens my will, but instead your holiness and righteousness gives strength and nourishment to my heart and mind to live as Christ.  I am certainly not perfect, but Jesus, I know you were and the power given you by God through the Holy Spirit is also available to me through you.  I want to think on YOU things so continue to press your Word on my heart — through my mind!

Finally, brothers, 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


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Strength In Me

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 3:13-14

These verses from Philippians sustained me throughout my years in college.  I turned to them often and displayed them on every page, poster or mirror I could find as a reminder that I hadn’t arrived, permission to forget and confirm the fact that today’s race felt more like an Iron Man event — without training!

The common theme from then and now is the strength I find in making it through that day . . . either then or right now.  And as I reflect I see a startling pattern of self-inflicted, superimposed godness — not goodness — upon my ever being.  My strength in victory as well as defeat has been out of the arrogance of my own heart and fervency of my own abilities and the lack of need for anything, or anyone, else.  Habakkuk 1:11 says it well, “Then they sweep past like the wind and go on — guilty men, whose own strength is their god.”  Never had I imagined that one of my gods was my own strength.  But, looking back, far and near, I see the pattern of dependence, the island of fortitude that I built that would ultimately lead to a crashing world where few pieces were left tangible.  Living with Habakkuk as your true motto, but shrouded by the mantra of Philippians succeeds in the misguided dependence on my own self to lay claim to victory.

And so, here I stand, wanting to press on, wanting to forget, wanting to strain for that prize — the temptation is to trust in my own abilities to get through it all.  But my heart will always be dissatisfied until it rests in Him and Him alone.  It not only is a place of refuge, but of ultimate and pure strength — unadulterated by the generic.

So it is true, in my weakness I am strong when Christ is my King and my strength is His.  I can only do because He does!

My Jesus, in my weakness . . . not so much in temptation, but more so when I make my strength my god, remind me of when you took up residence in my life.  Remind me then of those moments when you were undoubtedly present, when you moved through my heart and my whole body witnessed a taste of your glory as you met me there.  Remind me of the victory you have and that my adequacy is found only in you (II Corinthians 3:5).

Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.  As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.  They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.   Psalm 84:5-7

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Mirage In The Sky

Some wandered in desert wastelands, finding no way to a city where they could settle.  They were hungry and thirsty, and their lives ebbed away.  Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.  He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle.  Psalm 107:4-7

I wish desperately that life would never involve living in a desert.  But, the more I learn about the soul and the cry of my own heart, I am convinced that all will experience a journey into a desert at some point.  Provision and a satisfied spirit is commonplace in our hurried, busy and often troubled lives.  We ignore the fact that our soul is starving and our heart is thirsting for the Lord who reigns, but we ignore His Lordship and deny the grail of Living Water and find nourishment in the flesh instead.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.  Psalm 34:8

In the desert, God restores and lifts up.  And remember, it was in the desert that Jesus was tempted by Satan.  This was not a preferred place to go for Christ, but He knew it was a place He needed to enter for all mankind.  A dry place where there were no distractions and where even a drop of water would be tempting.  Satan took upon himself the opportunity to present the most rewarding of all temptations and even so, Christ received the grail of Living Water and found nourishment for His soul in the comfort and protection of God the Father.

In the desert, life has new rules.  Most things are not as they appear.  The heat on the horizon feeds our minds the lie of flowing water.  The vast expanse disorients us without assured direction.  And overhead, in the skies is the mirage of death in waiting.  The buzzards circle in a dance of time that concludes at the side of death.  It’s here when loneliness and the begging of our soul cries out to be saved from torment, pain and grief.  But when God has held your hand to the edge of the desert and walked with you through the sands of pure dependence upon Him, the mirage in the sky is no buzzard at all.  Satan would have you think such a lie, would he not?

In the desert, where God’s children go to drink from the oasis of Life, there is an Eagle that soars the skies whose wings stretch far and wide.  These wings are the wings we too, soar upon and gain strength.  So, the shadow that falls upon us in the desert is not the shadow of death, it’s the shadow of the One who gives Life!

Lord Jesus, remind me of the comfort you bring when all seems barren and desolate, when growth seems impossible and you appear far away.  May your wings sustain me!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.  Psalm 107:1


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If He Does Not

But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.    Daniel 3:18

Children teach us so much about ourselves.  Regardless of their age, children have a sense — or maybe a trying spirit — that tests their boundaries and their place in the order of things.  I’m reminded of this often through the lives of my children, nephews and niece — nine total!  It’s always interesting to me when a request from a parent (usually made to get action) is made to one of them and the response is nothing like what was requested.  It’s because, deep within them, they have a better idea!  So they think!  They have crafted, through their better understanding of their own state-of-affairs that what was being requested was somehow optional to the growing interest of whatever they are actively participating.  It forces the question, “Who’s the boss here?”

I find, in my own life, that I often act the same way towards God when He is trying to lead me down paths I’m not so comfortable walking.  I always seem to have a “better” plan, a “smarter” idea and a more “reasonable” response.  I forget that the outcome of His leading is nothing but good!  And so I ensue.

The confidence I have in knowing that “all things will work together for His good,” as He says in Romans, will become just that — good.  I place my faith, hope and trust in those words that it will be good and press on, as did Paul, toward that end.  But, I’m learning that the measurement of good differs.  What is good?  What is His good?  What is my good?  Good is suddenly looking a little less good and more not so good — not to be confused with bad.

And so enters, without question, the stories of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego along with Daniel.  The good in these real stories is but one thing — serving and worshiping the one true God!  It was not a popular choice and to everyone other than them it appeared to be a bad choice.  But doing what is right, serving the One who lives within me — Christ in me — while it doesn’t appear to be the most popular or notable thing to do IS THE measure of good.  It, beyond all things, is of greater importance and value.

This is why when the heat was turned up, the fire of life burned fiercely before their eyes and Daniel could smell the foul breath of the jaws of imminent death they were all at peace.  With confidence that God would deliver them from fire and lions, they stated ever so clearly, “But if he does not.”

All things do work together for good — but is my measurement of good on a scale I understand or on a scale measured only by my God?

My Father, let this sink in to the depths of my being.  Show me, teach me, stir in me the goodness you measure so that when things do not look so good on the path ahead by what my eyes see that I would know to look more deeply with the eyes of your Spirit within me.  May my faith in you become so strong that I say too, “But if He does not . . .” and be at peace.

. . . for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.   Philippians 1:30


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Knowing All My Ways

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.   Romans 8:28

Personally witnessing another and their journey through life is perhaps the most rewarding and fulfilling blessings we have with each other.  Sitting across the booth from a friend, I listen as she asks a question.  “If He knows what will happen to us, how can we have free will?”  I sat there for a minute.  Clearly a question I’ve also wondered for so many years, but never really tackled.  I knew this was one of those that the best of theologians have attempted to explain and failed at defining it clearly.  Since phoning a friend was not an option, I rested in the peace of knowing who God is and went from there.

While I will not do it justice, this made perfect sense to me!  And since me thinking about it with my friend outloud, it has captured my thoughts all day.  Definitely not a bad thing to think about for sure!  🙂

One of the most commonly used adjectives to describe God is omniscient — meaning, all-knowing.  We often think of this as the way God knows everything about us and so true this is!  But, I believe his knowing of me stretches to the far edges of the universe.  How so you may ask?

Well, we say all the time that God has a plan for me (and you) and wants the best for us, to see us prosper in it and be blessed by it.  But we also know that not so very good things happen to good people all the time.  How so?  Why so?  These are questions we tend to ask when bad things happen.

I believe God has a plan that is VERY GOOD!  But that is not the only path we could take.  I believe God knows every possible combination of options, paths, choices, decisions we have to make AND the outcome of every combination for every option, path, choice and decision.  That’s alot of stuff to know about me!  That’s right, it is — He’s ALL-KNOWING!!

So, how do I know if I’ve made the RIGHT choice, taken the best path, decided to act according to His will?  David speaks about this in Psalm 91.

If you make the Most High your dwelling–even the Lord, who is my refuge–then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.  For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.   Psalm 91:9-12

Do I dwell in the presence of the Most High?  Am I seeking Him as my refuge?  It is in this place where I find the RIGHT choice, the best path, the decision in His will.   And if that path is rocky, rough and potentially fatal?  No sweat, a host of angels have been appointed to watch guard over me — specifically for me!  And even so death may come, Paul reminds us to consider it pure joy!

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”    Matthew 10:39


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Holy On A Rainy Day

Feelings are a tricky thing.  Navigating what is connected to the truth of your emotions and discerning those things connected to false beliefs is a practice that involves intercession from the Spirit that lives within me.  Engaging a dialogue with my Helper is critical in living through He who rests in His temple.  No, I’m not speaking of the church down the road or the synagogue around the corner — I’m speaking of the temple of my body:

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  I Corinthians 6:19

Following this understanding then comes the realization that if He rests, resides — takes up residence — in me, then He goes where I go, does what I do, enjoys the things I enjoy, hurts in the pain I feel and rejoices in life with me.

But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.  I Corinthians 6:17

We are one!  And if we are one — follow me here — then I am holy — even on a rainy day!  This is a tough one for me and I don’t believe I’m alone in this difficulty.  Believing such truth, when the world and maybe even people within your own circles are communicating a different message makes it all the more difficult to believe.  But, the truth of the truth is that it doesn’t come, all the while, in your feelings.  Bad, rainy days happen, but Truth withstands even the worst of them.

Having a hard time believing through the fog?  I understand that one better than anyone!  Here’s what I read to remind me of who I am — my identity — despite my weather:

John 1:12   I am a child of God (Romans 8:16).

John 15:1,5   I am a part of the true vine, a channel (branch) of His Life.

John 15:15   I am Christ’s friend.

John 15:16   I am chosen and appointed by Christ to bear His fruit.

Acts 1:8   I am a personal witness of Christ for Christ.

Romans 3:24    I have been justified and redeemed.

Romans 5:1   I have been justified (completely forgiven and made righteous) and am at peace with God.

Romans 6:1-6    I died with Christ and died to the power of sin’s rule in my life.

Romans 6:7   I have been freed from sin’s power over me.

Romans 6:18   I am a slave of righteousness.

Romans 6:22   I am enslaved to God.

Romans 8:1   I am forever free from condemnation.

Romans 8:14,15   I am a son of God (God is literally my “Papa”) (Galatians 3:26; 4:6).

Romans 8:17    I am an heir of God and fellow heir with Christ.

Romans 11:16    I am holy.

Romans 15:7    Christ has accepted me.

1 Corinthians 1:2   I have been sanctified.

1 Corinthians 1:30   I have been placed in Christ by God’s doing; Christ is now my wisdom from God, my righteousness, my sanctification, and my redemption.

1 Corinthians 2:12    I have received the Spirit of God into my life that I might know the things freely given to me by God.

1 Corinthians 2:16   I have been given the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19   I am a temple (home) of God; His Spirit (His life) dwells in me.

1 Corinthians 6:17   I am joined to the Lord and am one spirit with Him.

1 Corinthians 6:19,20    I have been bought with a price; I am not my own; I belong to God.

1 Corinthians 12:27   I am a member of Christ’s body (Ephesians 5:30).

2 Corinthians 1:21   I have been established in Christ and anointed by God.

2 Corinthians 2:14   He always leads me in His triumph in Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:14,15   Since I have died, I no longer live for myself, but for Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17   I am a new creation.

2 Corinthians 5:18,19   I am reconciled to God and am a minister of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:21   I am the righteousness of God in Christ.

Galatians 2:4   I have liberty in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 2:20   I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I am now living is Christ’s life.

Galatians 3:26,28   I am a child of God and one in Christ.

Galatians 4:6,7   I am a child of God and an heir through God.

Ephesians 1:1    I am a saint (1 Corinthians 1:2; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:2).

Ephesians 1:3   I am blessed with every spiritual blessing.

Ephesians 1:4   I was chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and without blame before Him.

Ephesians 1:7,8   I have been redeemed and forgiven, and am a recipient of His lavish grace.

Ephesians 2:5   I have been made alive together with Christ.

Ephesians 2:6    I have been raised up and seated with Christ in heaven.

Ephesians 2:10   I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ to do His work that He planned beforehand that I should do.

Ephesians 2:13   I have been brought near to God.

Ephesians 2:18   I have direct access to God through the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19    I am a fellow citizen with the saints and a member of God’s household.

Ephesians 3:6   I am a fellow heir, a fellow member of the body, and a fellow partaker of the promise in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 3:12   I may approach God with boldness and confidence.

Ephesians 4:24   I am righteous and holy.

Philippians 3:20   I am a citizen of heaven.

Philippians 4:7   His peace guards my heart and my mind.

Philippians 4:19   God will supply all my needs.

Colossians 1:13   I have been delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of Christ.

Colossians 1:14   I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins. The debt against me has been canceled (Colossians 2:13,14).

Colossians 1:27    Christ Himself is in me.

Colossians 2:7   I have been firmly rooted in Christ and am now being built up and established in Him.

Colossians 2:10    I have been made complete in Christ.

Colossians 2:12,13   I have been buried, raised, and made alive with Christ, and totally forgiven.

Colossians 3:1   I have been raised with Christ.

Colossians 3:3   I have died, and my life is now hidden with Christ in God.

Colossians 3:4   Christ is now my life.

Colossians 3:12   I am chosen of God, holy and dearly loved (1 Thessalonians 1:4).

1 Thessalonians 5:5   I am a child of light and not of darkness.

2 Timothy 1:7   I have been given a spirit of power, love, and discipline.

2 Timothy 1:9   I have been saved and called (set apart) according to God’s purpose and grace (Titus 3:5).

Hebrews 2:11   Because I am sanctified and am one with Christ, He is not ashamed to call me His.

Hebrews 3:1I am a holy partaker of a heavenly calling.

Hebrews 3:14   I am a partaker of Christ.

Hebrews 4:16   I may come boldly before the throne of God to receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

1 Peter 2:5   I am one of God’s living stones and am being built up as a spiritual house.

1 Peter 2:9,10   I am a part of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God’s own possession.

1 Peter 2:11   I am an alien and stranger to this world that I temporarily live in.

1 Peter 5:8   I am an enemy of the devil. He is my adversary.

2 Peter 1:4   I have been given God’s precious and magnificent promises by which I am a partaker of the divine nature.

1 John 3:1   God has bestowed a great love on me and called me His child.

1 John 4:15   God is in me and I am in God.

Lord Jesus, may I live the Truth of your Word in my life.  I want to dance with You in all ways, in every moment — I want to dance in the rain, because I am holy!  Let’s do this — together!


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Shape Of Grace

And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  To him be the power for ever and ever.  Amen.   I Peter 5:10-11

Shapes help us imagine and find meaning in things throughout our lives.  When I see a heart, I think of love.  When I see a dove, I think of peace.  When I see golden arches, I think of McDonald’s.  When I see a triangle, I think of yielding.  When I see a cross, I think of . . . well, many things about my Savior!  But what shape do I see when I think of grace?  That’s a question I’ve been pondering for some time now — what does grace really look like?  It’s easy and perhaps a bit cliche to throw in the cross as a symbol, or throw out Jesus as the best example or use the special treat even though the chores weren’t done as a lesson of grace.  But to customize an image of grace, a shape, is not easily done.

A numbIMG_2703er of months ago I remember a time when I was sitting at my desk at work.  The sun was drilling its way through the trees outside my window and into my office and caught my attention with it’s bite on my neck.  I circled around and pulled up the blinds to catch a better glimpse at the world outside God had wanted me to see.  All the major characters were still in place, the grass, the trees, the road, the buildings . . . but there was something different about what I saw that day.  I sat there staring at the scene, looking intently at the occasional bird and passing car and completely missed the one thing God was trying to get me to see.  I sat still for quite some time concentrating on the scene.  And then, from out of now where, it appeared — my mind was looking through it, my eyes had ignored it, but God’s Spirit shown His light upon it — my reflection in the window.

I stumbled onto grace!  Through my stillness and in the darkness of the backdrop of my world, God was shining on me, showing me the shape of grace.  It was a moment where words were difficult to form and while prayer was something I wanted to do so badly, words were simply not possible.  But this was prayer!  This was the stillness of my heart in worship to my Savior, savoring the richness of the grace, the shape of grace, in me!  The silhouette of my heart against the backdrop of my darkness was being strengthened and made steadfast.  This cocoon-like moment required the stillness of my spirit, it entailed the turning of all things upside down so that all things are emptied, so that God could flow in!

Lord Jesus, continue to flow in!

. . . I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God.  Stand fast in it.   I Peter 5:12


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