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Archive for August, 2013

“If the God we serve exists, then He can rescue us from the furnace of blazing fire, and He can rescue us from the power of you, the king. But even if He does not rescue us, we want you as king to know that we will not serve your gods …”

Daniel 3:17-18a (HCSB)

Hand in a hand - Stock Photo

I want to offer words of encouragement, but my thoughts are jumbled…incomplete…fractured.  What insight can I offer through simple impressions on a page?

Perhaps in knowing that another struggles with heart wounds from the past or fears the days ahead you feel less alone.  Or, when you hear the pleading prayers of a mother for her hurting child you realize someone understands.

Yet, I’m reminded that Another understands completely.  He is the one who walks beside us–no matter the place or circumstance.  The World holds no power over Him.  The roaring flames may lick at tender flesh and the World shouts, “Burn! Burn!”  But, He is there–ever protecting, faithfully guarding, lovingly guiding.  Follow me.  Don’t be afraid.  I am with you always, even unto the end of the age.

And despite our human frailty and doubt, we trust and believe.  And when we don’t?  He is still there.

Then…deliverance.  We breathe deeply and everything is fresh and new.  Our lungs fill with the sweetness of God’s goodness and mercy and we know–those wounds, fears, and fires are only momentary.

 

Reflection

Have you been asking God to deliver you from a difficult situation?  How have you seen his faithfulness in the midst of the struggle?

 

Word of Power

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.  Isaiah 46:4

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Van Gogh.  Picasso.  Cassatt.  The names alone evoke images of world-renowned masters and their work–each artist  sharing a glimpse of the world as he imagined it.  Some images are bold and colorful; others a melding of shadows.

In the same way, God is creating His own masterpiece in each of us.  Every experience, circumstance, or emotion we encounter becomes part of the canvas–representing our struggles and triumphs, joys and sorrows, secrets and revelations.

And, if we look carefully, we’ll notice the Master’s  brushstrokes.  Do you see them?  They’ve smoothed the rough areas and shed light on the dark places.  He’s taking painstaking care to create an amazing work of art–a representation of someone beautiful and unique–you.

…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6 NIV)

The work may not be finished yet, but the outline is clear.  And the artist?  He already knows who you’ll become.  Perfect…incomparable…transformed.

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Scary tree in moonlight

I’ve grown tired and my throbbing head rests wearily on shoulders knotted by the week’s concerns.  Night begins to fill the sky with its inky fingerprint and I notice there aren’t any stars.  Even the smallest shaft of light has been snuffed out by the encroaching darkness.  My heart drums a muffled song of sorrow.  Where are the lights that once sparkled brilliantly?  How has the promise of the day faded so quickly?  Will night’s oppression be forced to stop its silent, creeping, Joy-Thievery?

I turn to the Word as a sanctuary from the fear that always comes in the dark.  Except now?  Instead of trembling because of the monster beneath my bed, I tremble at the reality of the spiritual battle being waged for those I love.  Words of encouragement speak to me as if they were breathed into my ear.  Cast your burdens upon the Lord.  

But, these concerns are heavier than any I’ve ever carried.  My body aches to be rid of them…my soul cries out for relief…and I pray.  Yet, I clutch the worries tightly to myself like an animal whose burden has been pressed close by the cinching of a strap to which it is bound.

Cast your burdens…cast your burdens…cast your burdens.  The words echo in my head as I reach awkwardly toward the invisible worries.  I pull one out–crushed beneath the layers–and lift it toward heaven.  Then, I throw it to the Only One able to take the weight of the darkness.  It belongs to Him.

I still don’t see the stars, but I know they exist.  And one day, the Light will blot the Darkness from the sky.  The promise for every day will be fulfilled and there will be no more Joy-Thievery–only Joy-Giving.  And the invisible Worry?  The one that rested on God’s shoulders?  Worry will be made new and transformed for His glory.  Amen.

 

Scripture for Reflection (selected verses from Psalm 55 MSG)

1-3 Open your ears, God, to my prayer;
don’t pretend you don’t hear me knocking.
Come close and whisper your answer.
I really need you.

4-8 My insides are turned inside out;
specters of death have me down.
I shake with fear,
I shudder from head to foot.
“Who will give me wings,” I ask—
“wings like a dove?”
Get me out of here on dove wings;
I want some peace and quiet.
I want a walk in the country,
I want a cabin in the woods.
I’m desperate for a change
from rage and stormy weather.

22-23 Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders—
he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out.
He’ll never let good people
topple into ruin.

 

 

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My Son Connor Goes Cliff Jumping

Teen Tip #1To Attain Optimal Growth

Drink a huge glass of milk (read pint) before bed.  Now stretch.  Results noticeable by morning.

Possible application for middle-aged moms?  Follow the above procedure.  It may work on that little muffin top.  Anything is possible!

Teen Tip #2–Problem Solving Ability

Forgot your keys?  Stayed out past curfew?  When the confines of your compact car become unbearable, consider climbing the roof.  Knock at your parent’s window.  They’ll be alternately concerned and disbelieving, but will be certain to invite you inside.

Possible application for middle-aged husbands?  Consider attempting the same routine at your wife’s window if you’ve had a fight with your beloved.  What woman could resist a man willing to take such a desperate risk to make amends?

Teen Tip #3–Ignore Common Sense Questions

You’re parents said it…and so have you.  “If your friends jumped off a cliff, would you?”  Live life and jump—especially on your 16th birthday!

Possible application for middle-aged parents?  Pray fervently.

All of these tips are the result of actual events and discussions.  More to follow…

 

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