You are currently browsing the monthly archive for September 2012.

Winging It.I like the security of preparation. I over-pack for trips and keep a small pharmacy in my car. An extra outfit (or three) and twenty ibuprofen must come along with me…you know, just in case. If I plan to leave the state, I’ll bring along a second suitcase.

Preparing for life takes a different list of essentials. I’ve ingested extra knowledge, bought insurance policies, and planned conversations that might never occur.

Despite my best laid plans, I continue to encounter situations for which I’m unprepared. If I scramble to respond on my own power, the circumstances get the best of me. Prayer connects me to the power I need, a resource exceeding any human effort to ensure success.

While I prefer to do my personal best first, I don’t need to fear unanticipated situations. I’ve come to love relying upon the Spirit to guide and equip me, to float on the breath dispatching angelic armies to support me. That kind of “winging it” brings more blessings than my suitcases can hold.

I like the security of preparation. I over-pack for trips and keep a small pharmacy in my car. An extra outfit (or three) and twenty ibuprofen must come along with me…you know, just in case. If I plan to leave the state, I’ll bring along a second suitcase.

Preparing for life takes a different list of essentials. I’ve ingested extra knowledge, bought insurance policies, and planned conversations that might never occur. 

Despite my best laid plans, I continue to encounter situations for which I’m unprepared. If I scramble to respond on my own power, the circumstances get the best of me. Prayer connects me to the power I need, a resource exceeding any human effort to ensure success. 

While I prefer to do my personal best first, I don’t need to fear unanticipated situations. I’ve come to love relying upon the Spirit to guide and equip me, to float on the breath dispatching angelic armies to support me. That kind of “winging it” brings more blessings than my suitcases can hold.

 

Fresh Taste of Autumn.Ninety degree steam settles over our neighborhood, suspending us in Florida’s extended summer. Our trees will hold onto their leaves for a few months more. Tropical chills will sweep them away without the colorful pageantry of autumn.

Garnet and orange decor brush hints of the season along our interiors. We bake pumpkin muffins and caramel nut pies to forge its aromas within our nesting places. Some of us turn down the air conditioning, desperate for a fresh taste of autumn.

We crave familiar comforts when journeying through a season of transition. Just as the sensory trappings of autumn carry us from summer’s warmth into winter’s chill, our spiritual paths encounter seasons of transition.

Periods of growth lead us to festivals of harvest, often followed by a time of intense dependence upon the Lord’s provision and protection. Whether circumstances announce obvious signs or not, acknowledging your spiritual season prepares you to optimize the purpose it serves in your life. Respond to growth opportunities. Reap and praise during the harvest, while storing some extra thanksgiving prayers to last through the winter. Remember that life’s chill can strengthen and sweeten the fruits of our spiritual gifts if we persevere in faith.

What spiritual season swirls in the air of your life right now? How can you use its aromatic lessons to bless your life and others?

Ninety degree steam settles over our neighborhood, suspending us in Florida’s extended summer. Our trees will hold onto their leaves for a few months more. Tropical chills will sweep them away without the colorful pageantry of autumn.

Garnet and orange decor brush hints of the season along our interiors. We bake pumpkin muffins and caramel nut pies to forge its aromas within our nesting places. Some of us turn down the air conditioning, desperate for a fresh taste of autumn.

We crave familiar comforts when journeying through a season of transition. Just as the sensory trappings of autumn carry us from summer’s warmth into winter’s chill, our spiritual paths encounter seasons of transition.

Periods of growth lead us to festivals of harvest, often followed by a time of intense dependence upon the Lord’s provision and protection. Whether circumstances announce obvious signs or not, acknowledging your spiritual season prepares you to optimize the purpose it serves in your life. Respond to growth opportunities. Reap and praise during the harvest, while storing some extra thanksgiving prayers to last through the winter. Remember that life’s chill can strengthen and sweeten the fruits of our spiritual gifts if we persevere in faith.

What spiritual season swirls in the air of your life right now? How can you use its aromatic lessons to bless your life and others?

Thick as Theives.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

–John 10:10

I played soccer worse than any kid in junior high–not an exaggeration. No one passed the ball to me on purpose, but one deflected kick sent it right to my toes. Overwhelmed by the opportunity to do something, I managed a sort of dribble. I grinned at those yelling to me, but the excitement had deafened me. Validation for my first athletic action propelled me forward. The rush of air and pride electrified my pores. I ran halfway down the field before the words got through to me…You’re going the wrong way, you idiot! I was heading toward the opponent’s goal. It seems matter how fast you run, helping the other team score makes you the worst player.

I wish that were the last time I helped an enemy win. With far higher stakes on the line than a P.E. game, I’ve assisted a treacherous opponent to score against us. I have helped my foe swing a grave battle in his favor. Not just once, but on a regular basis. I sprint dozens of yards in the wrong direction before recognizing my mistake. Why? Because I choose to believe his lies instead of the truth shouted from the One on my side.

The enemy of my soul tricked me into helping him steal, kill, and destroy in many subtle kicks. He lured me as a joy-thieving accomplice. I’ve slain love to purchase fear, destroyed time intended to serve God, believing these pursuits served my goal. With every toxic belief and insecure step, I diverged from my true goal of Christ’s abundant life in His love.

Time to retrain my mind and stop assisting the opponent. No more steps in the wrong direction. Let me counter each negative thought with a double portion of love and praise before I act upon it. I will fight the enemy’s strategies  sabotage my teammates or me.

Our team has the ball. What will you do to help keep it moving toward the right goal?

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

–John 10:10

I played soccer worse than any kid in junior high–not an exaggeration. No one passed the ball to me on purpose, but one deflected kick sent it right to my toes. Overwhelmed by the opportunity to do something, I managed a sort of dribble. I grinned at those yelling to me, but the excitement had deafened me. Validation for my first athletic action propelled me forward. The rush of air and pride electrified my pores. I ran halfway down the field before the words got through to me…You’re going the wrong way, you idiot! I was heading toward the opponent’s goal. It seems matter how fast you run, helping the other team score makes you the worst player.

I wish that were the last time I helped an enemy win. With far higher stakes on the line than a P.E. game, I’ve assisted a treacherous opponent to score against us. I have helped my foe swing a grave battle in his favor. Not just once, but on a regular basis. I sprint dozens of yards in the wrong direction before recognizing my mistake. Why? Because I choose to believe his lies instead of the truth shouted from the One on my side.

The enemy of my soul tricked me into helping him steal, kill, and destroy in many subtle kicks. He lured me as a joy-thieving accomplice. I’ve slain love to purchase fear, destroyed time intended to serve God, believing these pursuits served my goal. With every toxic belief and insecure step, I diverged from my true goal of Christ’s abundant life in His love.

Time to retrain my mind and stop assisting the opponent. No more steps in the wrong direction. Let me counter each negative thought with a double portion of love and praise before I act upon it. I will fight the enemy’s strategies  sabotage my teammates or me.

Our team has the ball. What will you do to help keep it moving toward the right goal?

“Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,’  Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’” – Matthew 4:18-19

I often look back on my life and wonder if I wasted it beyond retrieval. I list certain mistakes and question other choices. What if I had performed better in those years? Should I have taken a different career path? Why didn’t I launch into writing a decade ago? If only I sought deeper friendships, parented better, taken on a lucrative degree, time used well might have increased my life potential.

Though I thank God for His grace to help me after a mistake, lost time never returns.  I wonder how God looks on my life, considering moments which seem lost on personal interests. My education, fruitless jobs, and social endeavors seem trivial and lacking in spiritual purpose.

I came across this passage from the Gospel of Matthew this morning, and realized I spent a great many years fishing. I worked for short-lived  benefit. Jesus sees this, but He lets no valuable life go to waste. Not even a moment misspent. He repurposes me for use in His plan, to glorify Him and bless His loved ones. My Redeemer uses the past to craft a new future.

In the same way Jesus used fishermen to reel in new disciples, God doesn’t discard our talents or experience. He transforms them for use to renew His people and build His Kingdom.

What are your skills or experiences God can transform toward new life purpose?

May I See Your ID, Please?.

It astounds me to reflect on our policies for in-home counseling in past decades (let’s not get too exact on just how long ago). We showed up on client’s doorsteps without a badge, expecting them to let us inside and share all personal information. How could they verify what agency we represented?

Today, even salesmen carry identification. And we still don’t allow them past the doorstep. As times darken, skepticism intensifies. We examine those who reach out to us, insisting they prove their claims of identity.

The distrust turns inward with the same intensity. We doubt ourselves to the same degree we doubt others.

Why should I believe in myself? Where did I lose my spiritual identity badge?

Oh, the old ID card remains in my wallet and reflects my worst hair day. But, I seem to leave the new one at home all too often. Tucked in the pages of my Bible, I reflect on it during study and devotions. So lovely and inspiring, my new badge reminds me who I am and to Whom I belong. A new image surpassing visual beauty shimmers from its surface–recreated to represent the indwelling presence of LOVE Himself. The address reflects my residence in Christ. I relocated from past failures, sin, and fears. It looks, smells, and feels preferable to the one in my wallet. Yet, I nestle it back into the New Testament and close it inside. The new identity fails to replace the one I carry around with me.

I forget its image in less than an hour, resuming the belief in my old ID. I long to reach out with God’s love, but feel inadequate to accomplish worthy goals as just-plain-old-me. Even if I tried to share blessings, venturing into those personal doorstep types of interactions, others would be suspicious. How would anyone recognize Who I represent?

I must get into the habit of carrying my new ID. Maybe I’ll slip a note into my purse to remind me, “PERFECT LOVE DWELLS IN ME AND I IN HIM.” I’ll need to live out that phrase to keep it alive in my mind, heart, and soul.

So, what’s in your wallet?

It astounds me to reflect on our policies for in-home counseling in past decades (let’s not get too exact on just how long ago). We showed up on client’s doorsteps without a badge, expecting them to let us inside and share all personal information. How could they verify what agency we represented?

Today, even salesmen carry identification. And we still don’t allow them past the doorstep. As times darken, skepticism intensifies. We examine those who reach out to us, insisting they prove their claims of identity.

The distrust turns inward with the same intensity. We doubt ourselves to the same degree we doubt others.

Why should I believe in myself? Where did I lose my spiritual identity badge?

Oh, the old ID card remains in my wallet and reflects my worst hair day. But, I seem to leave the new one at home all too often. Tucked in the pages of my Bible, I reflect on it during study and devotions. So lovely and inspiring, my new badge reminds me who I am and to Whom I belong. A new image surpassing visual beauty shimmers from its surface–recreated to represent the indwelling presence of LOVE Himself. The address reflects my residence in Christ. I relocated from past failures, sin, and fears. It looks, smells, and feels preferable to the one in my wallet. Yet, I nestle it back into the New Testament and close it inside. The new identity fails to replace the one I carry around with me.

I forget its image in less than an hour, resuming the belief in my old ID. I long to reach out with God’s love, but feel inadequate to accomplish worthy goals as just-plain-old-me. Even if I tried to share blessings, venturing into those personal doorstep types of interactions, others would be suspicious. How would anyone recognize Who I represent?

I must get into the habit of carrying my new ID. Maybe I’ll slip a note into my purse to remind me, “PERFECT LOVE DWELLS IN ME AND I IN HIM.” I’ll need to live out that phrase to keep it alive in my mind, heart, and soul.

So, what’s in your wallet?

Labor Day.

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