When Hope Seems Lost (a poem)

All hope seems lost, our Lord has died
Beaten, scorned then crucified
All hope seems lost, sky dark as night
The Creator killed by His design


All hope seems lost, his body buried
Evil came, destroyed and did not tarry
All hope seems lost, the stone in place
Shock and grief upon our face


O Death, you won, you made the crown
That dug so deeply into his brow
Your nails held firm, your spear drove deep
Our hope is lost and so we weep


But then, the grave, it lost its treasure!
By God’s design and His good pleasure
The price was paid declared in full!
The stain is gone now white as wool!


The stone once so immovable and sure
Is rolled away there is a cure
Those broken, lost, and filled with shame
Now have a light in Jesus name!


Behold, our Hope was never lost 
His love ensured He paid the cost
Our Hope secure, He is our rock
Our Great Shepherd and we his flock


O Love, Divine, that came for me
When I, in darkness, was thine enemy
O Love, Divine, my Hope assured
You hold my hand so I endure

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You’re Safe Here With Me

I woke up this morning with the song “Come Out Of Hiding” playing through my head and heart.  What a glorious picture of Christ’s heart for us and the description of his desire for us to call out to him, for us to draw near because he wants to help us, he wants to be our “home.” Sometimes it’s hard to ask for help — perhaps its pride while at other times it’s that we know we need help we just don’t know WHAT help we need.  What can be really discouraging is when we finally gather the courage to seek out help and either get ignored or denied.  That little spark of hope gets smothered out and now we feel even more alone than we did before.  But Jesus tells us that he is ever for us and ever with us.  This is the description the prophet Isaiah gives of our Saviour:

Isaiah 42:1-4
Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.

This morning on my Twitter feed there was a post from a lady who asked church leaders for help. From what I can gather she had experienced abuse in her marriage and the church has not been helpful at all.  She is basically being wrecked emotionally and financially and the church is standing by and watching. Unfortunately, this story is not an isolated one. Months ago I decided I would try Twitter and within two weeks I was ready to quit. If I thought Facebook was a ‘forum of fools’ Twitter was a ‘SWAT meet of snipers.’  The worst of the lot were Christians.  It was a bloodbath!  But then….then I felt a whisper that I shouldn’t quit Twitter and I just needed to delete anyone who drained my spirit and see what God might have for me.  

Since then I have found wonderful leadership feeds that inspire me and theological discussions that challenge my understanding of the Bible and God…and its been really good! On top of that, God has led me to listen to women who have been or are in the midst of abuse — particularly in the church.  These women crush my heart with their stories — how they just want to be heard, valued, respected, loved — and, in particular, how they have been ignored, blamed, or villainized when they have sought help.  The worst is that pastors, in particular, are some of the most harmful and least helpful…some of them ARE the abusers!!!!!!  Thankfully, a number of them have been willing to dialogue with me on how I can better listen and give care when/if there’s ever a time someone comes to me in similar situation.  I believe God is using these women to grow compassion in me and a desire for justice on their behalf and in that, giving a glimpse of His own heart regarding injustice and abuse and how the church should NEVER be a place where that occurs and is tolerated.  God help us!  God help us listen and see and love and step into the mess because we love with YOUR heart!  I think its God’s heart position that will enable us to do so.  I think of the Psalmist who wrote, 

Psalm 86:1-6
Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you-you are my God. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day. Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul. For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you. Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace. 

I can hear this plea echoing from these ladies story after story.  My own heart has cried out in this way when I felt lost and needing help.  O Lord, break our hearts and hone our sensitivity…I feel so overwhelmed I can’t even put into words, or into a prayer, the depth of “feel” I have for these situations.  The more I listen the more I become aware, the more I become broken, and the more I just want to show love. How can anyone treat another person like this?! How can the church be silent?! O Lord, help us!
This “devotional” feels more like a rant in a journal and I apologize with it’s lack of clarity. 

When people are abused they withdraw and hide for self-preservation and protection.  They don’t know where there is a safe place or person for them.  When they have shared they have gotten shut-down or reaped even more abuse and so intimacy isn’t even something they hope for because who is there for them?  Jesus wants to be our safe place to come to and invites us into intimacy to share BECAUSE he IS THERE.  I think when our hearts get transformed by him we too desire to be that for others…we want to be a place of safety…we become the hands and feet of Christ.  Everyone needs Jesus — some just need human hugs that display his heart.  

God, please help me to become more of a “safe” person where people can know they are cherished. Help me to run to you when I feel like hiding in my own brokenness.  Fill me with YOUR sacrificial love so I can run to others.  Be with all of these ladies who are strangers to me but have tugged on my heart and filled my prayers.  May they find peace and support in You and with a healthy church family to give them support and hugs.  Amen.

Out Of Hiding (Steffany Gretzinger)
Come out of hiding — You’re safe here with Me
There’s no need to cover — What I already see
You’ve got your reasons — But I hold your peace
You’ve been on lock-down — And I hold the key

 ’Cause I loved you before you knew it was love
 And I saw it all, still I chose the cross
 And you were the one that I was thinking of
 When I rose from the grave

Now rid of the shackles, My victory’s yours
I tore the veil for you to come close
There’s no reason to stand at a distance anymore
You’re not far from home

And now I’ll be your lighthouse — When you’re lost at sea
And I will illuminate — Everything
No need to be frightened by intimacy
No, just throw off your fear — And come running to Me

And oh, as you run — What hindered love
Will only become — Part of the story
Baby, you’re almost home now
Please don’t quit now
You’re almost home to me

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Abounding In Thanksgiving

This morning, around Canada, pastors will stand behind pulpits and give Thanksgiving Sunday messages. “What does it mean to be thankful?”, “What are you thankful for this morning?”  I, myself, will be preaching on, “Growing Christians Are Thankful” a sermon handed down to me from the pastor whose church we are all joining with for worship today.  My text is, 

Colossians 2:6-7
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

After the service many families will rush home to rescue their chicken/turkey in the oven (praying the oven actually turned on as planned).  They’ll gather around the table with few family or many depending on their situation and give thanks to God for ???  It’ll be a “thanksgiving party” but anything we do will pale in comparison to the Thanksgiving in Heaven we see in Revelation 7…

Revelation 7:9-12
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

This really got me to thinking, “What am I thankful for?”  I mean, truly, after I run through the list of Jesus (duh), loving spouse, food to eat, home to sleep in, employment, etc., etc., etc…what “hits me right in the feels” with thankfulness?  Amazingly enough, it didn’t take me long to come to an answer: I am most deeply thankful for LOVE.  

The fact that God loves me through and through without measure.  That He sees me, wants me, lives in me, with me, goes through life with me, talks to me, forgives me, saves me, cherishes me and will do so for all eternity…THAT truly fills my heart with Thanksgiving.   

My passage in Colossians begins with ,”Therefore, as your received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him…” I received Jesus (TRULY received Jesus) when his love became THE defining point over what religious people had been telling me for years. In fact, once I got a clearer picture of God’s love and grace I was actually mad at “the church” who had been influencing me for years but had neglected to share with me a clear picture of God’s love!  Infected with legalism, I believed God would only love and want me if I lived a perfect sinless life following Him without stumble or fall.  He was the eye in the sky ever watching, the judge over me ever recording my failings…what a different picture than Romans 8:31-39,

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died-more than that, who was raised-who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord

What am I thankful for? As one song-writer put it: “The overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God [that] chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine. I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away. Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.”  (Cory Asbury)

I pray you would hear and receive and know the depth of God’s love for you today. May your heart abound with thanksgiving for you are His beloved and He is crazy about you! 😊 

God, You’re So Good (Passion)

Amazing love — That welcomes me — The kindness of mercy
That bought with blood, wholeheartedly — My soul undeserving

 God, You’re so good, Oh God, You’re so good
 God, You’re so good, You’re so good to me

Behold the cross — Age to age — And hour by hour
The dead are raised, the sinner saved — The work of Your power

I am blessed, I am called, I am healed, I am whole
I am saved in Jesus’ name
Highly favored, anointed, Filled with Your power
For the glory of Jesus’ name

And should this life — Bring suffering — Lord, I will remember
What Calvary has bought for me — Both now and forever

God, You’re so good, Oh God, You’re so good
 God, You’re so good, You’re so good to me

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Good morning! Reflections for Worship

I love those mornings when I wake up with a song in my head and heart! It seems to set the tone for the day for me when I wake up worshipping God mindful of how wonderful He is. I particularly love it when it happens on a Sunday morning.  Why? Because my personality type + being a pastor + an insane week where I feel my sermon is not up to par, the truth of God’s person and power have overridden my tendency to wake up obsessed with doing or worry.  This morning I woke up to the heart and mind in harmony singing, “God, You’re So Good” (Hillsong).  Before my eyes even opened I heard the opening line…

Amazing love – That welcomes me – The kindness of mercy
That bought with blood, wholeheartedly – My soul undeserving

 God, You’re so good, Oh God, You’re so good
 God, You’re so good, You’re so good to me

Behold the cross – Age to age – And hour by hour
The dead are raised, the sinner saved – The work of Your power

Sometimes we can feel like we are frauds when we sing lyrics that claim truths we are simply not feeling or experiencing. How can I claim I am healed when I am still sick? Or holy when I am struggling with sin? Or whole when I know I am a Christian, a new creation, but still feel somewhat shattered? The Christian faith is filled with experiences of truths of our temporary physically broken world meeting our spiritually empowering eternal world. When the bridge of this song came up I was reminded again how a life of faith is filled with realities now and not yet.  We are transformed and being transformed.  We are saved and will be saved. We are sanctified and are being sanctified. Holy and being made holy.  How can this be? It is a glorious part of Christianity! What God demands God provides and how God sees us is in harmony with how God is making us. 

I am blessed, I am called, I am healed, I am whole
I am saved in Jesus’ name
Highly favored, anointed, Filled with Your power
For the glory of Jesus’ name

I AM blessed, called, healed, whole, saved in Jesus name!  I AM highly favoured, anointed and filled with God’s power for the glory of Jesus name.  That is my reality now and in the future.  How can we NOT sing of God’s goodness and love?!  All of our unworthiness, and self-obsession with our unworthiness, ceases to be blockers of grace. All of our brokenness does not make us unattractive to God.  The love of Jesus and the glory of Jesus become the impetus for and the conclusion of us being highly favoured and empowered.  And in those moments where we are tempted to let suffering overshadow and redirect our attention destroying our joy and hope….

And should this life – Bring suffering – Lord, I will remember
What Calvary has bought for me – Both now and forever
 God, You’re so good, Oh God, You’re so good
 God, You’re so good, You’re so good to me

What has Calvary bought for me? Through Jesus’s sacrificial loving suffering, he has bought us freedom and favour for all eternity. We get to bask in the love and goodness of God forever. Such a great reminder of perspective!  Do we let our current circumstances of trouble and suffering form the lens/filter with which we see God? OR, do we let the goodness and love of God be the lens with which we observe our temporary circumstances on earth?  The first can only end in questions, disappointment and possibly anger. The second, brings peace that passes all understanding — hope for the future — a sense of not being alone — an knowledge of being loved.

May your Sunday be filled with good things from our good God.  You are blessed and called.  You are highly favoured, anointed, and filled with God’s power. But best of all…you are loved with God’s amazing love that welcomes you. 😊 

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“Lord, I Need You”

Lord, I come, I confess, Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart, You’re the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You


Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
Where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

So teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
When I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay

(Chris Tomlin)

Where do I find my rest? Do I rely on TV or video games? Books or conferences? How about retreats? What do I do in the times where none of those options are available? Why is ministry so draining some days?  Just when I think I can’t take any more and am bowing beneath pressures and burdens more gets piled on.  Surely there must be reprieve for the saints of God!

Then, I hear this song and close my eyes to soak in truth. That there is a different type of bowing I can do — one where I surrender all to God and in doing that I actually do find rest.  Clarity comes to my current experience and I realize that I think I am barely holding it together when in reality God is holding me together. I thought I had been the one just taking one step at a time moving forward as I can when really it’s God who is guiding my heart, my steps, my way.

Lord, it’s true.  I need You — every moment, every day, when accusers come from outside and from within, You defend me by cloaking in me in Your undeniable, unassailable righteousness. Sin continues to hound me and haunt me but Your grace is stronger than any sin seeking to bind me. When I fail Your grace is there to gather, free and restore.

So Lord, in those moments when my heart is broken and life is dark, when no words are able to rise from my lips never mind a tune, will You teach me Your song to sing in thanksgiving. Temptations of all sorts may come my way and I feel unsure, unstable and unable, Lord, I fall on You.  In You and You alone can I find hope.  On You and You alone can I find sure footing to stand.

This week has been incredibly tough and filled with a constant barrage both in my personal and professional life. The band Extreme once wrote a song with the lyrics, “Stop the world, I want to get off.”  That has definitely been my week/month. Yet in the swirl of darkness that seeks to consume my joy and hope, I get brilliant break throughs of light and miracles reminding me of God’s ever faithful presence. From a person committed to suicide then changing their mind to choose life. From a woman who has been abused her whole life telling me she in our church because she knows she is loved here. Seeing my wife blossom in her faith and care-giving as her family is in massive crisis. To a stranger on Twitter being encouraged because some weird pastor in Canada reached out to let her know she is loved.  To a coach who encouraged me to reach out to others even though I thought I was needy because I craved connection. (I’m not. It’s not uncommon for someone to desire connectivity with others 😛)  Each step is a reminder that God not only sees and hears us but moves to meet our hearts to give us what we need. It’s when we reach out to others and need them more than we reach for God that we get into trouble. Expectations are prepaid resentments and so when we expect others to meet our needs we set ourselves and others up for disappointment. When we reach out to the Lord he never fails — His steadfast love is sure.

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You

Every day, every hour, every minutes, moment, every breath.

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Reflections on “harmony” & “discord”

When the district our church is a part of sent out the invitation to our worker’s retreat the postcard invitation had this on the front:
har-mo-ny (noun)
1. the intentional act of interdependence amid a diverse people for the sake of a united goal. 2. the quality of interdependence within tension and diversity. 3. the state of freely knowing who you are, whose you are, and where you are going with others.

Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. ~ 2 Corinthians 13:11

It got me to thinking, “What is the opposite of harmony?” So I looked up the antonym and found the word “discord” (noun)

1. lack of concord or harmony between persons or things: marital discord.
2. disagreement; difference of opinion.
3. strife; dispute; war.
4. Music. an inharmonious combination of musical tones sounded together.
5. any confused or harsh noise; dissonance.
—verb (used without object)
1. to disagree; be at variance.


What causes discord in my life and in my heart? What causes discord between people?  I wondered this as I put on the worship playlist for the retreat and got ready to start my day.  The very first song, “Here For You” by Matt Redman was first on the playlist.

 I experience discord in my life when I confuse why I am here and for whom I am here.  I am not here for self. And, ironically, at the core, I am not here for others.  I am here for God. At our district’s workers retreat we are there to serve the Lord first by worshipping Him and placing Him at the forefront of attention and desires. Nothing is hidden before God even if we hide ourselves from each other.  We know the mess our hearts and minds are in.  We know the sins that continue to creep in and haunt us when we fail and even when we succeed at keeping them at bay the shame of them tries to hook into our being — so we hide the disorder in our heart.  If our lives are to come into a holy order we need God’s consuming fire to come and burn away the chaff in our lives, our pride and chains of sins that seek to shackle our hearts.

I LOVE the line “Let our shout!” So often we are timid in the evangelical church both in our worship and in our testimony and perhaps its because we move in our own power instead of letting God’s Word move in and through us in POWER!  May every soul be awakened as we gather before God at retreat.  May our own souls be filled with praise, love and adoration for Jesus.

Have a blessed day and be filled with good cheer! You are not alone and you are LOVED!

Let our praise be Your welcome — Let our songs be a sign
We are here for You, we are here for You
Let Your breath come from heaven — Fill our hearts with Your life
We are here for You, we are here for You

To You our hearts are open — Nothing here is hidden
 You are our one desire
 You alone are holy — Only You are worthy
 God, let Your fire fall down

Let our shout be Your anthem — Your renown fill the skies
We are here for You, we are here for You
Let Your Word move in power — Let what’s dead come to life
We are here for You, we are here for You

 We welcome You with praise — We welcome You with praise
 Almighty God of love — Be welcomed in this place
 Let every heart adore — Let every soul awake
 Almighty God of love — Be welcomed in this place

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“We do not know what to do but our eyes are on you.”

Prayers and Ponderings on Chronicles 20:1-1

21 After this the Moabites and Ammonites, and with them some of the Meunites, came against Jehoshaphat for battle.2 Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in Hazazon-tamar” (that is, Engedi).3 Then Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.4 And Judah assembled to seek help from the LORD; from all the cities of Judah they came to seek the LORD.5 And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court,6 and said, “O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.7 Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?8 And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying,9 ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you-for your name is in this house-and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’10 And now behold, the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy-11 behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit.12 O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

It takes a lot for us to become so overwhelmed that we stop and assemble before the Lord and wait on him.  So often when problems come before us we think our creativity can find solutions causing us to approach the Lord as a last resort. To arrive at the place where we say, “We are powerless. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you, O God” means we are finally in a place of true faith and reliance. In that moment, we truly realize that we must rely on God’s power and might — that none are able to withstand Him. What I love about Jehoshaphat is how he recounts the faithfulness of God in the past to face the problems of the present. God’s promises and His actions in the past have created a foundation of trust for the people of Israel when they stop to remember so they can then believe.  So many times I have been in situations where I thought all hope was lost and then God showed up and in inexplicable ways made the situations work out.  When the volume of issues before me seem like a tidal wave drowning me and I cannot catch my breath He speaks a word and there is calm.      

The Lord responds to the prayers of the people and says, “You will not need to fight in this battle. Stand firm, hold your position, and see the salvation of the LORD on your behalf, O Judah and Jerusalem.’ Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed. Tomorrow go out against them, and the LORD will be with you.” – 2 Chronicles 20:17.

I love how God has the people go out to see how He will answer their request for help and I LOVE how they go out! 

21 And when he had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the LORD and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, “Give thanks to the LORD, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 22 And when they began to sing and praise, the LORD set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. – 2 Chronicles 20:21-22

When I am afraid and overwhelmed, thankfulness is often relegated to the back of my mind. Worries consume me. But when I remember — When I am thankful regardless of the outcome to come — When I recognize that God’s love is steadfast and sure — my heart is lifted and singing and praise return.  Have you ever had that moment when you put on a song and the words both crushed your emotions and lifted your heart because you were reminded of God’s goodness and love for you?  You are not alone. God moves on your behalf.

Today, I pray, you will remember God’s goodness and love for you — that your heart will be lifted and you will sing with thankfulness and let the Lord’s power and might carry you and answer your situations. 

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Elijah’s Harbor ~ A Place To Recharge

All too often I find myself looking for a place to recharge. Four years ago my wife and I were financially strapped but desperate to get away. So I did what anyone would do (to my wife’s laughter)…I typed into the Google search bar “vacations for pastors.” Lo and behold! I found an article written by Ed Stetzer in Christianity Today which had links to places where pastors/church leaders could go for a reasonable cost. One of those places was Elijah’s Harbor.

Joe and Patty Gatas oversee the ministry there and they are an incredible couple! Our stay this past May was just what we needed. You can have them cook meals for you at an extremely reasonable cost and, when Joe describes the meat as “cooked perfectly”, it truly is cooked perfectly! The setting, the rooms, the food and the ministering of the people there truly does make it a harbor for rest.

If you are looking to take your family there are houses to rent on the property as well. They have ATVs to take out, animals to see, fishing gear to take to the stream, park passes if you venture out, an infinity pool and hot tub to relax in, an old fashioned ice cream shop for indulging, a brand new coffee shop for the caffeine connoisseurs, and a movie theatre for staying in. I’ve posted the link to their website below. Check them out!

https://www.elijahsharbor.com

https://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/march/free-or-discounted-getaways-for-pastors.html

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Isaiah 43:19 ~ A Personal Journal Entry/Reflection

“Look! I’m doing a new thing; now it sprouts up; don’t you recognize it? I’m making a way in the desert, paths in the wilderness.”

Look!” – Take a moment/take time to observe the work I’m doing, the transformation taking place before you, in you, in others. Purposefully take a moment to OBSERVE.

I’m doing a new thing” – Don’t believe that someone is fully and finally formed! Don’t think they can’t transform, grow, mature, change. There’s no hope in that — neither for yourself or others. GOD is doing a new thing. It’s HIS work.

now it sprouts up” – Even NOW God is making growth occur. Anticipate it NOW…why do you think it will take a long time for new shoots to break the surface? Why can’t it be now? Everything has a beginning…a time when movement/development move forward to more maturity.

don’t you recognize it?” – Are you looking at MAN things or GOD things? Do you so believe a person can’t change that you are blind? Have you so little faith in the transformational power of God that you don’t even recognize when He’s at work? What measures are you using? Are your expectations blinding you? Perhaps you don’t recognize it because it’s MORE glorious than you anticipated/expected! You aren’t God…Look for HIS handiwork.

I’m making a way in the desert” – Yes, in the sands of the desert there seems to be no clear way…it all looks the same! But GOD can make one, guide, show clearly, be with ou on it. Even when the says seems invisible it’s clear to God.

[I’m making] paths in the wilderness.” – In the desert it’s all one big empty canvas with no scenery to guide — it’s so barren that any path is open — overly so. In the wilderness the way is rough, overgrown, needing clearing. There is no path because there is so much stuff — so many obstacles that a clear path needs to be cut and navigated. In the overgrowth of our lives in the wild wilderness, God can provide clarity and move obstacles we think will hinder or may hinder.

A Prayer: God open my eyes to see more clearly the work you are doing in me and in others. Help me to replace expectations with expectancy because You are faithful in Your promises to transform and Your power to accomplish it. When I see no guide posts along the way, I pray you make the path of travel clear to me. When all I see are obstacles blocking at me, thorns threatening to tear my flesh should I move forward, I pray You clear a path in the wilderness for me to follow Your lead. Thank you for your steadfast love.

[A journal entry March 2019]

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A Personal Journal Entry: Reflections On Riley

I’ve been thinking about Riley and how much I tell him he’s loved. Riley is our cat. He may have a small inkling about what being loved means but as a cat and therefore on a different plain of thinking, feeling, etc., he is limited in truly knowing he’s loved.

But no matter how little he’s able to grasp that, I continue telling him that he is loved — he’s a good boy — over and over every day. I think on some level that has shaped him and his personality as a cat: he’s social, loves people, is relaxed, asks for treats/food/water, without any fear of rejection. He trusts us to provide for him and care for him.

Yes, he sheds hair ALL OVER THE PLACE! Sometimes he makes a mess. Sometimes he takes things too far in his playing. Sometimes he is a bully with our other cat or complains when his nails need trimming. Often times he tries to take my spot when I momentarily vacate a seat to get up to get something. Yet he’s still loved.

I think I’m like Riley…except Riley has a greater understanding of what it means to be loved and to live confidently, freely and joyfully in that reality.

I struggle to know and accept that I am loved. Often, I think all God sees is the mess that I make, is disappointed when I don’t act in a way that pleases Him, is sad when I try to take His place (that He never vacates). Most of all though…He just loves me and tells me over and over again even though I think and feel on a different plain than Him…He is constantly affirming it. To Him, I am a good boy…and I am loved…unconditionally. Even though I don’t get how much He loves me He is faithful to provide for me in numerous ways. In those moments I do manage a small, small glimpse into what God’s amazing love looks like my mind and heart get overwhelmed.

Thank you for continuing to say it, God. Thank you for continually telling and affirming to me that I am loved. Thank you for seeing me amid my mess and letting me know I matter to You — You see me and know me and treasure me.

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