This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Jeremiah 18:1-4
If I were most honest, this morning I woke up not feeling the most beautiful. Clearly, when I wake up, there is nothing beautiful about that look, but I’m not referring to the beauty on the outside . . . I felt not so beautiful on the inside. I felt broken. And in my brokenness, the pieces of my life seemed scattered. Like a favorite vase on the shelf that had fallen and shattered to the floor, I saw my life in a million pieces and the impossible task of cleaning it up and even more, the impossible ability to put it all back together.
It’s important to know that there was nothing that occurred to cause me to wake in this state except the fact that I know the evil one is in the business of deceiving me in what I think about me, what others think about me and in what and whom I trust.
But in my brokenness, I collect the pieces . . . big, small, tiny and seemingly insignificant and pile them at the foot of His cross! Why would I even want to do this? There is a very good reason why! Because my God is the Potter! He is my (and your) Restorer! He makes ALL things NEW! He takes my brokenness and makes something beautiful. When you understand the grace that is ever so sufficient for even me, you will see Him. You will see this beauty, not without the seams from healing, the scars from the process, the marring. But praise Him — He didn’t stop there! He kept shaping, kept molding, kept forming — and He continues to make beauty!
Lord Jesus, you have made all things well! Today you have shown me the sufficiency of your grace for me in all things. Remind me of my brokenness every day! May I never live a moment without recognizing the position of your hands upon the sides of my life as it spins on the wheel. You’ve never let go, you’ve never stopped, you’ve never tossed the clay and started over! Thank you for the beauty of ashes that only comes from the refining fire of your Spirit!
by Mark Cruver
Filed under Beauty, Belief, Broken, Faith, Grace, Heal, Life, Love, Praise, Thinking of Me, Truth
They go from strength to strength . . . Psalm 84:7
The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. Psalm 28:8
As I think on my day, I cannot help but think about the mountain of circumstances and events that surround it on all sides. It’s fairly daunting and no health supplement will give the strength to cross over. But, the truth is, tomorrow is on the other side and despite the fact the mountain is tall and steep, I know it must be climbed.
I remember standing on the top of one of the “Ivy League Peaks” in Colorado and seeing the world from what appeared to be — the top! Mountain after mountain, capped with snow and rock blanketed the landscape in all directions. It was truly breathtaking. But the more than ten hours it took for me to get to the top was no pleasant journey. No doubt, there were pleasant moments — the scenery, the cobalt-blue lakes adorned with beaver homes, forests of aspen, the treeline and then nothing but rock. If you’ve been there, you know what I mean! But it took a focus, determination and a strength that was beyond my likelihood. My focus was on the mountain before me, I knew it meant climbing to the top — and it was obvious, I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.
It’s like that in life too. It’s easy to focus on all the mountains, in all directions, and wonder and worry about how to manage the challenges each of them face. But God gives us today and on that mountain calls me to draw upon His strength to get through it — to climb it. And if I strain in His strength, He assures me of even more strength! I move from strength to strength. He enables me to make it through today!
So, I choose to trust Him — my heart trusts Him! I call on His strength today and in the end, I see the beauty of His strength in me. It is throughout the day that I approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we [I] may receive mercy and find grace to help us [me] in our [my] time of need. Hebrews 4:16
Thank you Lord for the strength you have given and the promise of your provision of strength over and over again. It is through this I praise your name!
Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Psalm 105:1-4
by: Mark Cruver
“…but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. I Corinthians 15:57-58
They are ridiculously impressive! The cedar trees of Lebanon have a reputation of growing to unbelievable heights, stretching their branches to the heavens and to what seems beyond. In order to sustain such a plant, their roots must grow deep, reach far and hold on in such a way so as to keep it firm and steadfast. They, too, are immovable!
God speaks often of the cedars of Lebanon in His word, their far reaching branches (Psalm 80:11), tall and lofty (Isaiah 2:13), majestic in beauty (Ezekiel 31:7). They are, by far, a symbol of God’s strength, power and holiness.
He then, calls us to be like that of cedar ourselves. But not of ourselves – for that is impossible! Rather, He calls us through His victory to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding.” While these are true of the cedar, how could they also be so true of me? If one can argue the steadfastness or immovability of the cedar, the one thing that remains undeniable is the cedar always abounding in it’s majesty!
I am personally struck by the word “always.” Not once does the mighty cedar of Lebanon abound no more! It abounds . . . always . . . because of who or better, what it is! Likewise, I, too, am able to abound always because of who I am, abounding in the work of the Lord!
Lord Jesus, the prevailing winds often blow hard and topple many trees, but the strength and resilience of the cedar of Lebanon keeps it upright! May I remember the roots of my own spirit drive deep into the Rock and despite the battering of life, You, oh Lord, sustain me!
by: Mark Cruver
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:22-24
Children say the most amazing things sometimes. So much so, a number of years ago Bill Cosby actually hosted a show called, Children Say The Darndest Things. Sometimes they are like little parrots, repeating those things they overheard their parents say to each other or what they learned on the playground. These moments can be particularly surprising and in some cases, unsettling. But how often do children remind us to do what’s right? They have a nature about them that tends to hold tight to the compass of life by reminding us of our True North. Today that happened!
In a group setting with hundreds of children, the adult in front spoke to the crowd and asked the following question: “What did God teach you throughout your summer?” Little hands stretched to the ceiling to share their moments of truth and revelation. All were superb, but one student caught my undivided attention.
With a firm voice of confidence rarely witnessed, he says, “I learned how extraordinary we are even though we are ordinary because God makes us extraordinary.” I leaned back in my chair and pondered the Truth of his insightful summer. This was not something he picked up on the playground, this was coming straight from the Truth of God’s Word! We may be ordinary, but we are in fact, extraordinarily ordinary — because God makes us that way!
Lord Jesus, thank you for the Truth of your righteousness and holiness that resides in those who call you King of Kings and Lord of Lords. A message often delivered through the honest mouths of children! May I pause to listen to your voice!
by: Mark Cruver
But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves. Malachi 4:2
Mornings when the sun shines bright and firm is a morning when I tend to feel refreshed by the warmth of it’s rays. It’s almost magical, but the truth of those rays, the refreshment and comfort all come from the Creator. What seemingly exists as another day, the “repeat event” that happens over and over is actually shaped into existence, designed for me, uniquely adorned and set to display the glory of the Lord!
And on those unique mornings when in the field the cattle even turn into the rays of the sun, something happens. They frolic. Frolic? They dance in the sunshine, play in the warmth of the sun and in their youth play in the spirit of who they are!
Does my heart see that sun? Does my spirit taste and see that the Lord is good and dance in the rays of His healing? I say yes, but is it not dependent on if I see that sun? What happens on an overcast day when the sun does not touch the ground? Will my heart sing? Will I frolic?
God shines with healing in His rays regardless of the circumstances that bring a dense fog to my world. Knowing this is one thing, but believing this is believing that God is exactly who He says He is. Further, it’s having faith in that which cannot be seen and knowing in that faith that His healing comes in trusting throughout life — not just when the sun shines bright! Clouds pass, but the sun shines forever!
Lord Jesus, I praise you not because of who I am, but because of who you are! You are the everlasting truth and healing in all things. You have come each morning to kiss the breath of this earth with the healing power of your righteousness. Through this I dance . . . I dance knowing my spirit is well-fed!
by: Mark Cruver
Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings . . . Psalm 17:8
I’ve spent some time thinking about what it means to be the apple of someone’s eye. Having an apple in one’s eye is a little bizarre and interesting at best. But we’ve used that phrase to describe the worth someone has to us as an individual, placing them in very high regard. So when David writes in prayer to God, “keep me as the apple of your eye” it affirms the immense worth and value to him by God.
David understood who he was and there was no question he understood the truth about what God thought of him. Likewise, God thinks the same about us all! We are accustomed to say — in fact, I am guilty of praying this just yesterday — how grateful I am that you (God) love me so much in spite of all of my junk. My junk equates me with my raggedness but it is important to understand, know and believe — especially never to confuse — that my raggedness does not make me worthless! It does not define me!
It’s been explained that seeing the image of myself in the eye of the another person requires a closeness most find uncomfortable. But when I apply this imagery to my relationship with God, it means that I can see myself reflected in the gaze of my Father! I am the apple of God’s eye!
God sees me with absolute clarity! From deep within, He sees and knows my junk — yours too! But this is not ALL He sees! Often it is all WE see of ourselves or all WE see of others. But God sees deeply and broadly — from the inside out. He sees potential, intent, ability — what will be, what has been and knows intricately what or who we will one day become.
As I continue to walk in His footsteps, walk in His Spirit, He calls to the surface from within, the goodness, greatness and beauty of Himself that only He can see in me so that one day it will become visible to all.
Lord Jesus, it is difficult standing so close to you that I can see my own reflection in the pupil of your eye. It makes me shiver at some level. But I know that you gaze upon me with immense worthiness and love. It is undeniably rich! May I live each day remembering that I am the apple of your eye and that though you know my junk, you know more who one day I will become! The work you started, may you continue to make complete!
by: Mark Cruver
inspired by: John Ortberg’s Love Beyond Reason
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah 64:6
Not so many years ago, my daughter had for herself a sweet little orange-striped kitty. Had she been a boy, it would have been a real-life version of Calvin & Hobbes. Classic adventures and discoveries every inch of her existence and countless moments of conversation and questions with answers. It was beyond all else the most unique bond in our home. Without “Two-Sides” (that was kitty’s name), going to sleep was impossible as was going to grandma’s or heading out on vacation. Two-Sides went with us everywhere.
But as the days checked off the calendar and the whiskers on Two-Sides disappeared, the love my daughter had for her was still ever strong. It was not a love of youthfulness or beauty, for Two-Sides had grown quite ragged. Instead, the love my daughter loved Two-Sides with was a love that made Two-Sides beautiful.
It is not very different with me (and you)! To God we are all rag dolls. But we were not created ragged, for when God finished what He had fashioned in His own image He said with His own breath, “It is good!” He loves me (and you) and that does not change over time!
But over time, we have all become like rag dolls, so crooked from sin and guilt that it would only feel similarly familiar to be discarded, forgotten, left to my own demise. But no! God changed everything because of His love for me! Thank God my identity is not found in my raggedness, but instead in Christ who took my raggedness to the cross!
John Ortberg wrote in his book Love Beyond Reason:
“There is such a love, a love that creates value in what is loved. There is a love that turns rag dolls into priceless treasures. There is a love that fastens itself onto ragged little creatures, for reasons that no one could ever quite figure out, and makes them precious and valued beyond calculation. This is a love beyond reason. This is the love of God. This is the love with which God loves you and me.”
by: Mark Cruver