Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fixing Our Gaze

There are times when the heaviness we feel
is greater than the sum total of our cares.
It is a type of oppression, of darkness,
that seems to hover over us--
and we cannot put our finger on 
what we are up against.
When I am faced with this kind of battle,
I have a number of choices.
I can stay under it and just have a hard day.
I can try to figure out why I am fighting
and wrestle until I have understanding.
Or I can go up and find
a greater source of light so that
the darkness must dissipate.

It is not wrong to try and understand why
the sense of heaviness is surrounding us.
It is just wrong to focus on it
after we have spent some time 
crying out for wisdom and discernment.
After this, there is no other option
but to go up and fix our gaze on Jesus.
This is the place I am today.

I stand on His truth:
"Give your heart to the heavenly things. 
As far as this world is concerned, 
you are already dead, 
and your true life is hidden in Christ...
the secret center of our lives."
Col 3:3 
I rehearse those promises He has given me:
"I am a resting place for His love."
"I am His daughter and His eternal hand
has touched my life so that 
He may be glorified through it."
His heart is that all of His sons and daughters
would believe, especially on those days
that seem curiously heavy,
that we are His beloved
and a resting place for His eternal love.
He is the secret center of our lives.
He surrounds us with His presence.
And in His presence, we are changed.

Today, Lord, I choose to go up 
and surround myself with Your presence.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

He is Our Life

God doesn't intend to help us live the Christian life.  
Immaturity considers the Lord Jesus a Helper.  
Maturity knows Him to be life itself.
Miles J. Stanford

Maturity is growing into His likeness in 
ever increasing ways.
It is daily and it is according to His word.
The days that I feel most like I can't do this life
are the days that I am supposed to rejoice in my weakness.
But those are the days that feel heaviest.
I wonder whether this is the one time
that He will not help me.
But He is not to be my helper.
He is to be my life.
The mystery is just this: 
Christ is in you.
It's that simple. 
We preach Christ...
so that we can bring each person to maturity. 
To be mature is to be basic. 
Christ! No more, no less.
Col 1:27
It is about Christ in us.
The Holy Spirit is our Helper,
and I am so grateful for that.
But He is not a helper in the sense of 
"I need Your help" today
kind of helper.
He is our ever present help in times of need.
He is our peace; He is our life.
He is the Holy Spirit of Christ
Who leads us into all truth.
Through His leading, we come to know Christ
and grow to maturity.
On this ever so normal day with good things
and challenges and concerns and so much to do,
I look to each one and say,
You are all good trainers.
Thank you for providing opportunity to rely
on the abundant life of Christ
for  my strength.
Holy Spirit, You are my ever present help.
You lead me into the abundant life.
And I trust You to bring me to maturity.

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Smaller Self

Let God re-mould your minds from within, 
so that you may prove in practice 
that the plan of God for you is good, 
meets all His demands and 
moves towards the goal of true maturity.
Romans 12
The re-moulding of our minds most often
has something to do with taking self
and moving it off the throne once again.
In the smallest of ways, we move off center
in our relationship with Christ
and we are automatically moved off center
in our thinking and our practice.
So this morning, I simply ask once again
that the Lord would adjust my heart
that I might be centered in Him.
I want every part of my day 
to be about proving His ways are good.
There are so many things I don't understand;
so many concerns I have for myself and others.
Lord, I want my self to be made small
and for You to be magnified in my life.

When Christ is small—and self is large—
life cannot be deeply restful. 
But when self decreases—
and Christ increases, 
then the picture takes in all 
of heaven's over-arching beauty. 
The stars shine down into its night 
and sunshine bathes its day.
Then the life of friction and worry 
is changed into quietness and peace. 
When the glory of Christ streams over 
this little, cramped, fretted, broken life of ours—
peace comes, and the love of Christ 
brightens every spot and sweetens all bitterness. 
Trials are easy to bear when self is small—
and Christ is large.
JR Miller
Lord, my prayer for this day is that I move
closer to the goal of true maturity.
Be magnified in my life today.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Becoming Like Him

But what happens when we live God's way? 
He brings gifts into our lives—
things like affection for others, 
exuberance about life, serenity. 
We develop a willingness to stick with things, 
a sense of compassion in the heart, 
and a conviction that a basic holiness 
permeates things and people.
Galatians 5:22
Everything in this life is about 
becoming like Christ so that 
Father has a family of sons and daughters
that represent His Son.
There is nothing more important
than being a demonstration of His life on this earth.
The goal in our surrender to Him 
is that we choose His ways over our own
every single time.
We love others deeply
because we love like He loves.
We have exuberance about life
because His life is overflowing.
We have serenity because He is our peace.
Holiness permeates things and people
because we see like He sees.
We cannot hold these truths in our heads
or hold them as sentiments in our hearts.
He came as God incarnate
that we might also be 
a demonstration of His life.
Every day.
Lord, Your grace alone 
makes this impossible goal
totally possible.
I get to live by the strength 
and perspective of Another.
I live my life through Yours.
I am totally dependent on 
Your mercy and Your grace 
to do the things I really want to do--
things which bring glory to Your name this very day.
You are more than enough for me.
Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, 
the life of the Spirit, let us make sure 
that we do not just hold it 
as an idea in our heads 
or a sentiment in our hearts, 
but work out its implications
in every detail of our lives. 
Galatians 5:25

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Purpose in Pressure

When we are no longer able to change a situation, 
we are challenged to change ourselves.”

There are those times where it is 
completely obvious that we are 
flat-out outta control.
We cannot change a thing no matter how hard we try.
We are in some sort of chaortic swirl and
all we know is that God is in control.
He is moving us to another place, 
a higher place, a place of growth.
Perhaps it feels like this to an unborn child.  
They lay totally secure, 
all needs met, in a place of peace and protection.  
Then the birthing moment arrives and the child 
emerges into the light of a brand new world. 
After a whole lot of pressure.
Sometimes, the only way to get to a new place
is to go through a time of pressure. 
There is no other way to get to the other side.  
If we endure, we emerge into a place of maturity 
and greater insight into the nature 
and purposes God has for us.  
The pain will have been worth it all.
You know that under pressure, 
your faith-life is forced into the open 
and shows its true colors. 
So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. 
Let it do its work so you become 
mature and well-developed, 
not deficient in any way.
James 1:3
Lord, You are sovereign and are always in control.
I look to You and will not give in to anxiety
or that sense of being overwhelmed 
with the cares of life.
Once again, I choose to go up.
To see from Your perspective.
To trust Your goodness.
You work all things together for good.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Steady and On Track

God Himself is right alongside 
to keep you steady and on track 
until things are all wrapped up by Jesus. 
God, who got you started 
in this spiritual adventure, 
shares with us the life 
of His Son and our Master Jesus. 
He will never give up on you. 
Never forget that.
1 Corinthians 1:8-9
Until all things are wrapped up...
That may or may not be very soon.
In the meantime, He is still at our side
to keep us steady and on track.
Every day things come along that shift our ground.
Things come along that make us want to 
point a different direction, 
even just the slightest bit.
But we have a set course
and the one who call us is steady.
May our dependably steady 
and warmly personal God 
develop maturity in you.
Romans 15
Lord, I want to remember minute by minute
that You stand next to me
holding me steady, keeping my feet
pointed in the right direction.
I have to know which lane 
I have been called to run in.
It is the lane that will lead me to 
the fullness of my calling in Christ.
Who cut in on you, deflecting you 
from the true course of obedience? 
This detour isn't from the One who called you
into the race in the first place. 
And please don't toss this off as insignificant.
Galatians 5
May I stay in my lane and fix my eyes on You. 
I want to run my race in such a way as to win
the prize for which You called me.
Turn my way, look kindly on me.
Steady my steps with your Word of promise 
so nothing gets the better of me.
Psalm 119

Sunday, May 20, 2012

So Long Self

The deception of every sin is selfishness.
Temptation promises what self desires...
The spirit of this world 
is so strong that only a continual, 
daily crucifying of our flesh,
will enable us to withstand 
the power of temptation.
Journal of the unknown Prophet

We can only be tempted by that 
which self demands.
But to follow Jesus, we must deny self.
It is the subjugation of our self
that is our true victory.
And so we fix our eyes on Jesus.
His beautiful face fixes our gaze aright. 
He turns our faces to look upon His Father, 
whom He gazes upon continually.
In that place of worship, 
self need not be denied
for it is obliterated--
eradicated by something far more glorious,
far more worthy than its own image.

Self is the ultimate bully.
Feeling bigger than anything else around, 
it demands everything.
We attempt to please it 
only to find that it wants more.
We are a slave until we realize 
that every bully has a fear--
a fear of being exposed.
A fear of being confronted by someone bigger.
When our "big brother" steps in 
and commands the bully to leave us alone, 
we walk away free.
Free to be who we are in Christ.
So long self.

The time will come when our self shall be so 
enlarged by the indwelling God, 
that there will be no longer any enforced denial;  
it has learned to receive with thankfulness, 
to demand nothing.
God's eternal denial of Himself, 
revealed in Him who took up his cross daily, 
will have been developed in the man;
 his eternal rejoicing will be in God--
and in his fellows, 
before whom he will cast his glad self
 to be a carpet for their walk, 
a footstool for their rest, a stair for their climbing.
George MacDonald

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Narrow and Free

While we live by revelation--
every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God--
logic certainly backs everything up.
Even the paradoxical.
Especially the paradoxical.
We just have to remember it is only
an apparent contradiction.
We live by the voice of God
and ask Him to lead us on the road 
to fulfill our created purpose.
There are not a whole lot of roads
that lead to His purpose.
There is only one,
and it is narrow.
Narrow is the road that leads to life. 
Matthew 7:14
We often forget that it is narrow;
sometimes we want it to be broad so that
 we might do what everyone else is doing.
But it is narrow.
We're free to live a new life 
in the freedom of God.
Romans 7:6
This new life of freedom
and the narrow road:
one of those apparent contradictions.
Narrow places sound so constricting.
Constriction does not sound like freedom.
But God doesn't give us the narrow road
because He wants to limit, hinder, squeeze or obstruct us. 
He is not keeping things from us; 
He is protecting those things that He has for us.
If we set our own goals, 
then we get to choose our own roads.
If "happiness" is our goal, 
many roads offer to get us there.
And if one doesn't get us to happiness, 
we can always change.
We do that all the time.
We change jobs, spouses, relationships,
homes, schools, even gender.
If all that fails, we can always
change the definition and begin again.
But if our goal is defined by God,
only one road will get us there--
the road He maps out for us.
So I run straight toward the goal 
in order to win the prize, 
which is God's call through Christ Jesus 
to the life above.
Philippians 3:12
The narrow road--
It is purposeful,
it is the way to our destiny,
it is free.
Lord, keep my feet going straight
down the narrow road of purpose.
I want to run toward the goal
that I might win the prize.
It is by Your design
and I embrace the wonderful paradox
that to gain my life is to lose it.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Completely Dependable

There's a fiercely loyal minority still—
not many, perhaps, but probably 
more than you think. 
They're holding on, 
not because of what they think 
they're going to get out of it, 
but because they're convinced of 
God's grace and purpose in choosing them. 
If they were only thinking 
of their own immediate self-interest, 
they would have left long ago.
Romans 11:6
It is so all about Him.
This is not a life that can be lived to the fullest 
by focusing on what is in it for me.
It is a life laid down.
It is a life of denying self
It is a life of obedience to Christ.
But it is not a life of duty.
It is an abundant life, 
full of peace and grace.
He is a "never will I leave you" God,
who promises us that His goodness and mercy
will hunt us down and be with us all our days.
He created purpose and formed our lives
to fulfill that purpose.
We are fully equipped to live this life of purpose.
The One who called you is completely dependable.
1 Thes 5:23
With these words, I am rehearsing 
what I know to be true.
When life gets busy and 
a bit out of control, 
I get tempted to lose focus.
Actually, I don't lose focus; 
I shift focus.
To myself.
So, I go back to what I know.
I exist for Him.
It is the only perspective worth living for.
He gives me peace and purpose.
And He wants His strength to be mine.
The One who called me
is completely dependable.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Time for Every Season

In the spring of the year, 
when kings normally go out to war, 
David sent Joab and the Israelite army to fight... 
But David stayed behind in Jerusalem.
2 Samuel 11
It is a very dangerous thing to make plans
that differ from the "time of the season."
David decided to take a nap in a time of war.
Being out of season left David
susceptible to the spirit of lust, 
and he "noticed Bathsheba" when he woke up.

The changing of seasons is natural.
But one "summer day feeling" doesn't mean 
that summer has actually arrived.
We can very easily determine a season by a feeling.
Feelings come and tempt us
to declare a change of season--
mostly because we WANT the season to change.
It's possible that David fought many wars 
for many seasons and he just wanted a break.
Breaks are not bad.
When they are in the will of God.
When we orchestrate our own break,
we are open to attack.

Do I look to my Father 
to gain understanding,
or do my feelings make decisions 
that leave me open to wanton spirits?
A wanton spirit wants me 
to choose my own way.
It usually doesn't sound all that wrong.
It is not always a wrong thing;
it can just be a thing out of divine timing.
To everything there is a season...
Lord, may my eyes be on You 
and may revelation be my mode of operation.
I don't want to reason my way in or out of a season.

When I am in a shifting season,
it is critical that I shift in timing.
May I never allow my feelings
to determine my actions.
I want every thought and deed 
to have eternal consequences for You
and to bring Your Kingdom here on earth.
May it please You to lead me into 
the season You have set.
To every thing there is a season
and a time for every purpose under heaven.
May it ever be so in my life.