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“Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him;
he cannot save himself, or say,
‘Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?’” – Isaiah44:19-20

Several bags of candy lurk in my house. I won’t divulge where I hid these treats from my family. The loot stash must remain secret, or I could face a dire need devoid of sweets. No one’s stealing from my Hershey haven.

I must hoard those snack-size candy bars so I can give them away later, right?

Let me clarify, I’m not shoving them in pockets to eat them myself. It’s been eight months since my last taste of candy. I reserve all treats for other people. For a future time. Just not for the people right in my home, not for me, and not now.

The pattern of hiding my sweets makes me wonder if I treat my spiritual blessings the same way.  I sometimes hide myself to prevent theft, as if sharing my heart will allow someone to rob an irreplaceable gift. If I believe I possess a resource the Lord cannot restore, the enemy has tricked me. In fact, it is in giving that I receive (see Matthew 6:4), and Christ promises abundant life for those who follow Him. He will multiply the stores of my heart when I share them in accordance with His will.

So instead of allowing the enemy to trick me, I must treat all those I encounter with uninhibited blessings, lavishing upon them every gift I can offer today. Not withholding for some future need, or a different person. Not refusing to enjoy God’s sweetness myself, either. I’ll open myself to receiving all the delicious anointing Christ wants to increase within my soul. I can hardly wait to give what He will resupply.

I’ll also uncover my stash of chocolate right now. We always seems to have leftover candy after Halloween anyway. More than we started with. Funny how that works out, huh?

Will you choose, like me,  to resist trickery and share your treats today?

“Are you important?” The pharmacist locked eyes with me.

Taken off-guard by the question, I fumbled for a response. 

“You look like you’re important,” he said.

“Well, everybody’s just as important as everyone else,” I managed to say. “I’m sure I’m no more important than you are.”

“Well, that’s a good attitude.” The pharmacist proceeded to prepare my arm for a vaccination. “I won’t go on telling you you look like a movie star, then.”

Though I complemented his painless technique and kept conversation polite, a twinge of regret hit me over the missed opportunity. I should have added “in God’s eyes” to my statement of universal significance.

In this world, I harbor no delusions of movie star status. My computer screen reads 9:30PM. I just finished cleaning the kitchen and folding laundry. Earlier, I answered business emails, filed paperwork, ran errands, and managed social media. Hollywood icons have others do those tasks. They also don’t chase pregnant flies around the house before sitting down to dinner, but that’s another story…

Let it suffice to say I’m not at risk of paparazzi stalkings or a fan mob crushing. I’m not well known by earthly standards.

To the One Who made the stars, however, I’m known well. In God’s eyes, the status of my importance skyrockets. I have no light of my own with which to shine, but through my intimate relationship with His Son, I become more than a star.

“You may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.’  Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life” (Philippians 2:15-16).

If anyone ever asks me about my importance again, I’ll know how to respond. “I’m not a movie star,” I’ll say, “but I am a star. Would you like to be one, too?”

Christ thinks you’re so important, He’d give His life up just for you. Every day of your life, the glorious Son sends His Spirit to pursue your affections. Relentless in love and passion for you, He daily seeks a deeper connection with your heart.

What will you say if someone asks whether you’re important?

Eat Your Cake Today.

“’Eat it today,’ Moses said, ‘because today is a sabbath to the LORD'” (Exodus 16:25).

We’ve all heard the terrible story of Titanic’s victims who forfeited dessert to save their figure. Though I don’t advocate gluttony or any other sort of hedonism, each day has it’s own sweet opportunities. The gift loses its benefit when overlooked or hoarded. Yesterday and tomorrow must not be permitted to steal the value of today’s blessings.

The lesson of manna brings us permission to enjoy each taste of divine cake provided for the moment. Manna tasted like coriander seed wafers, sweet like honey (Exodus 16). God provided a sweeter treat than ordinary bread. Each person could collect only the proper amount for the day at hand. With the exception of worship days, leftovers rotted.

Life works the same way. When we store up the past, living in regret and bitterness, it rots our present. Hoarding up fears of tomorrow also deprives us of the sweet joy available today. Divine peace allows us to retain wisdom and grace instead of regret and bitterness. We exert only enough time and energy to be responsible to tomorrow without allowing anxiety beyond our ability to take action to erode our experience of today.

Like the Hebrews in Exodus, thoughts of the past and fears of the future tempt us to miss God’s presence with us today. Knowing how to sort out the past and prepare for tomorrow without worrying can seem impossible. In fact, we can’t manage the balance without God’s help. The Holy Spirit provides guidance each day for how to absorb lessons, prepare responsibly, and live today in the fullness of God’s indwelling  presence.

If we nourish our minds and spirits from God’s hand, growth will bless our days. Each day. What sort of cake will you share with the Lord and those He loves today?

Ruby Slippers.

Recent stay-cations underscored there’s truly no place like my home. Fresh seafood, sugary beaches, and fabulous resorts set the scene here. We have more theme parks, museums, and attractions in a two hour radius than any other destination. We boast sun kissed berries and year-round veggies. Our roads never ice over.

I find joy in the brief trips to other venues. Even when the journey begins to remind me of comforts missed at home, I retain a positive outlook. I search for all blessings available and seize opportunities to bless others. Excursions are temporary, and soon I’ll return home to stay.

My spiritual home outshines my earthly abode. Where I come from, glory floods the kingdom. God’s presence makes all other light sources obsolete. Music exhilarates souls and angels, and all of them harmonize without effort.  Joy warms each inhabitant to the core, and no one recalls suffering or darkness for it has been so far removed from their experience. Nothing on earth compares to my heavenly home.

Though my excursion here reminds me how distant life seems from glory, I can retain a positive outlook. I smile while seeking blessings to absorb and share. Divine music and light set my heart’s scene, reminding me where I’m from and where I’m heading once again. You might not see ruby slippers on my feet, but I assure you the power remains stronger in my faith-soled mantra–There’s no place like home.

I’m not a batter. Nope, not a golfer either. Don’t even ask about volleyball.  I tried to improve my athletic skills in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Through various experiences I’d rather not recount, I learned a painful truth. White orbs seem destined for impact with my head, not for adding points to my ego. When the Lord endowed me with gifts, He chose not to include…basic coordination. I could defy my fate and try soccer, but I think I’ll roll with it instead.

God never urged me to pursue athletic stardom. In fact, the Creator knew I lacked the means for an average person’s achievement. He smiled upon my acceptance of ineptitude. I can picture Christ patting my battered head and saying a blessing over me, “My dearest Tina, it pleases me to see this will be your last welt. Instead of seeking to match others’ abilities, rise to the challenge for which I molded your soul.”

In pursuit of His calling, other obstacles pelted me. Stumbling blocks brought me to my knees many times. I questioned the Lord’s call, asking whether He understood my lack of endurance.

“I’m not Noah,” I told God.

He smiled again. “So, you’re insinuating I don’t know who I’ve called?”

I might have thrown a white bowling ball at my own forehead. “Okay, so You know who You made.”

I rolled with it, surrendering. If failure awaited me, I would accept the blow. I lined my dreams and esteem on a log for target practice each day, making sure no semblance of ego could survive.

The memory of Christ’s voice prompted my heart with sweet whispers of a divine purpose I once held dear. God tugged at my soul, urging me toward more than passive submission. “Will you give up, or give Me all?”

I had to accept my path as different from those of others. Once God revealed His purpose, rolling with setbacks could no longer define me. God didn’t require me to aspire toward goals outside my gifts, but He did present a path too steep for me to climb without His help. Faith means willingness to embark on a journey I cannot manage on my own strength.

“‘My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.’ Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become” (1 Corinthians 12:8-10, The Message).

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, 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 3:12-14, NIV).

LifeView.

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2).

 

I’m a vacation window shopper. Our family excursions remain rare and less-than-luxurious, but I enjoy dreaming of castle visits and waterfall scenes. I scroll through packages to Yosemite, Colorado, and Europe even though the trips lay far beyond the reach of my wallet. With my high-end resort tastes, there’s little hope of realizing my dreams.

Among thousands of hotel rooms, those with a view rise to the highest price points. If I choose to spend my vacation eyeing snow-capped mountains or seaside sunsets, the room’s cost will reflect the sight’s value. Other accommodations offer dismal space overlooking parking lots or alleys. Cheap digs lessen the joy and wonder of the experience.

As I consider my life’s journey, I face a choice of amenities. Each blessing costs time and discipline. The magnitude of peace and joy with which I perceive life requires prayer, scripture meditation, and fellowship with other disciples. I must surrender the alley view of selfish grumbling to get the preferred scenery. If love does not flow through my life to bless others, my environment becomes stale and malodorous. The illusion of control cannot remain drawn shut over my outlook, or I’ll never see the abundant life of obedience and faith.

Do lifeviews prove worth the upgrade? In Christ, the answer remains the same. He holds the true hope to realizing my dreams. Will you join me in a prayerful outlook today?

Pumpkin Spice.

“He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy” (Acts 14:17).

In the dark of September’s final night, orange gourds tumbled into town. They took over church yards and street corners. Some seem to have erupted from library shelves. Crafty mothers perched scarecrows atop the heaps to hold the restless autumn guests in place. As soon as October’s breeze turned the calendar page, pumpkins invaded.

Unlike zombies or killer tomatoes, pumpkins do not swarm our streets to butcher and eat us. These seasonal legends swamp our neighborhoods so we may gobble them. The bumper crop lays itself out before us to provide comfort food, vitamins, and a unique art medium.

Of autumn’s many delights, pumpkins rank among my favorites. I cherish the weeks its flavor graces my beloved latte. Freshly roasted seeds, pie-kissed muffins, and gourd-skin canvases owe their blessings to this symbol of harvest time.

Though my lifestyle buzzes a world away from the farming culture of my roots, the pumpkins remind me how its beautiful rhythm culminates in provision. Enrichment, tilling, and sowing represent partnership with God in His work. Those dependent upon the land face their inability to work alone. They cannot wrangle success from the heavens. God alone provides rain and sunlight to produce healthy crops.

Our spiritual harvest occurs when God blesses the love and kindness we helped Him plant into the acreage He outlined. Our world of love-influence might shrink or grow in size from one year to the next, but the quality of its fruit remains the vital test of a successful harvest. So much grows when we enrich hearts, till minds, and sow spirits with God’s blessings–around and within us.

At spiritual October, I believe we can reap intimacy with the Lord. His presence satisfies me more than a fresh-roasted tray of pumpkin seeds. His embrace lifts my spirit higher than an eight layer tea cake. Will you join me this harvest season for a latte of divine joy?

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