Saturday, December 23, 2017

Everlasting Father

“...and his name shall be called...The everlasting Father” Isaiah 9:6

I hate doing laundry, and I wish somebody would invent inexpensive (but cute) disposable clothing that could be thrown away after one wearing. If they can invent disposable razors, cameras, and dishes, why not clothing? 

Some things, however, don’t ever need to be disposable. The human heart was made for eternity and Christmas was God’s way of supplying for the needs that last that long. You’re not a disposable piece of junk, but an eternal soul who needs an everlasting Father to provide eternal security, unconditional love, and royal identity. Consider the beauty of the way He provided all of that! In the face of not deserving any of it, the eternal Christ entered time as a baby in order to become your everlasting Father. How would you ever doubt your worth in the face of such love? He didn’t throw you away, He became your Way ... in a manger. 

Whatever you may be facing this Christmas, know that the everlasting Father had you and your issue on His mind before either one of you came to be.  Long after your issue has passed, you and His love will live on because since the day you received Him (John 1:12), You became His and He became your everlasting Father. 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Mighty God

“...his name shall be called...The Mighty God....”
Isaiah 9:6

Everybody has a god. Even those who claim they don’t have actually constructed one with the raw materials of their own human logic and reasoning. There is a God who defies reasoning yet causes everything to make sense. He is the Mighty God! 

He’s not a crutch, but a cornerstone and a rock on which every foot can stand, weak or strong. No one gets through this life free of trouble, tragedy, or trauma. Leaning on Him doesn’t make you weak, but wise. Life has a way of taking you beyond your limits, of eating up all your reserves. Even your addictions require more than willpower, you need The Mighty God! 

That Baby in the manger was a preorder against everything that bullies you. When all you’ve done in your own strength is not enough, call on Him. Jesus is His name, but He’ll gladly answer to “My Mighty God!”

Thursday, December 21, 2017

When You Don’t Know What to Do

“...his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor....” Isaiah 9:6

There’s nothing like having no clue what to do, especially when people are counting on you to make the best decision. Ignorance can create panic, and there has to be a better solution than faking it till you make it.  Thankfully, if you know Jesus you don’t have to panic or pretend. The Christ of Christmas is a wonder of a Counselor! It was His plan all along to be there to guide you when you need Him (John 16:13). He knows the end from the beginning and everything in between, so you never have to brief Him on the situation or give Him time to weigh the facts (Isaiah 4:6). Who else knows what you need before you ask (Matthew 6:8)? He has invited you to come boldly and find grace to help in your time of need; therefore, at every moment, your Counselor stands available to  point out the exit signs your temptations don’t want you to see.(Hebrews 4:16; 1 Corinthians 10:13).

Wisdom is one of the gifts most unopened in His storehouse. Do you recall your Counselor’s promise to be generous with it when you ask (James 1:5)?

Do you find that you do a lot of worrying before remembering you have a Wonderful Counselor?How many times have you sought counsel from everybody else or tried to figure it out yourself before coming to Him? Your Wonderful Counselor loves you! May you experience  the wonder of that love whenever you don’t know what to do. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Tongue’s Tale

“Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3

I was having an ordinary moment with a family member the other day when he alerted me I’d crossed a line. The rebuke was so gentle that the sting mirrored it. I hadn’t meant to hurt or offend, and I rushed to say so. “I know you didn’t,” was the loving reply. I offered an apology, and his gracious acceptance gave the incident a peaceful burial. 

 Upon reflection, two thoughts have sprung from those few uncomfortable moments. 

First, sometimes it’s not what we say, but how we say it that’s wrong. Frustration or anger have a way of turning the most benign words into weapons. I thought back to a few other things I’d said in recent days that I could have delivered with more sensitivity. (Forgive me, Lord.) 

Second, oftentimes people don’t tell us that we’ve hurt them, but it doesn’t mean we’re not guilty. Sometimes only the Holy Spirit makes us aware of what we’ve done. I’ve tried to duck the conviction because no one actually said anything, but no, I can’t use that as an excuse. If ever my words could have had a gentler expression, to that degree I am guilty of harshness to the delicate and unseen part of the recipient’s emotions. It is not the way of Christ, and I want to be like Him. 

If this is your heart’s desire too, may we pray this together: 

Dear God,  make my mouth an instrument of love, not of hurt. I ask that your spirit change my heart so that gentleness flows from my lips. Let meekness control my tongue so that it takes the time to construct the best words to say in the best way. Amen! 

Thursday, October 5, 2017

On-Time God

As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.“ Psalm 18:30

The day started early. I rolled over and picked up my phone just to piddle like I do when I’m relaxed. Then I saw that someone I love had called at an hour that could only mean something was wrong. Bolting upright, I scurried to a part of the house where I could be free to talk with the volume distress always provokes in me, and dialed this one I love. The words I heard concocted a strange soup of desperation, frustration, and deep concern in my heart. I was in rescue mode. I threw out the lifeline of hope, but my loved one was hard-pressed to take hold of it. The tears of my loved one tears shook me internally while my own failed to come until the lengthy call was over.

I  texted several friends for prayer. “I can’t bear this alone,” I thought, “but who will stand with me, kneel with me at this intruding hour?”  A few who came to mind were having their own crises, but I didn't remember that until after pressing “send”.

Before the dings and chimes indicated replies from folks whose sleep I may have interrupted, God was my only audience. A prayer with three words was all I could choke out over and over. A rebuke about "vain repetition" made a rude appearance in my mind. The love of Jesus kicked it out and reminded me that His Spirit could decipher the paragraphs my heart was praying in those three words.

Friends texted their support and I replied with gratitude.

I retired back to bed with my Bible, thumbing through the psalms for comfort. At first, the songs weren’t appropriate, happy beats on a heart that felt beaten. Then my eyes landed on a psalm that thundered with the anger I was feeling toward my loved one’s oppressors. Thank you, King David, for keeping it real and writing it down just like you felt it! Our God’s ears don’t have to be coddled. He’s the author of those emotions that won’t perch right in a pew, as well as those that feel holier.

I checked my email to avoid my distress’s cold stare and found a new email from an old friend. Pregnant with the kind of encouragement that destined it to be printed and posted on my bathroom mirror,  the letter felt like a kiss from God. It had nothing to do with my sore spot, but it helped with the sting all the same.

Thank you, Lord, for caring friends. Thank You for hearing what I can’t say. I bless You for your Word that comforts me, and  I thank you for timing that letter to arrive just when I needed a reminder that You care. You seemed far away in my distress but in reality, You showed up in each of those encounters. You truly are my on-time God.

Friday, September 22, 2017

While You Are Hurting

 "I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.  Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live."  Psalm 116:1-2

It had been lurking in the shadows of my heart: a hurt I had incurred about a week prior. Busyness made it shy, but when the quiet came, the hurt limped back  to center stage. 
Then one night, I was in a noisy place, a place of worship. Most of the songs were unfamiliar; therefore singing while gleaning the truth made an awkward dance. 

Enter the beautiful blindsiding. 

The Spirit prompted the worship leader to break the cadence of the service with an invitation to lift up a burden. Without my permission, my hurt came to the forefront. I tried to stifle it's bruised hand reaching for the altar. It complied, but manifested itself in tears instead. No! No! I didn't want to cry in this unfamiliar place, but the woo to lay that burden down had an irresistible seduction. It was as though Jesus came to me, held my uplifted face between His hands and said, "Tell me all about it." Everything and everyone around me seemed excused from this private time with my Saviour.  I didn't say anything I hadn't said to Him before about this matter, and I knew this hurt wasn't going to heal overnight, but this time my keen awareness of His tender listening was enough. 

Sometimes listening to someone is the most Christ-like thing you can do. No rescue...just the loan of your time, attention, and ears. Though you say no words, a healing exchange transacts. A burden is cut in half, and it's weight redistributes. A lightness blows the fragrance of hope through the place once packed with heaviness. What a beautiful gift!

Know this! Jesus is an ever-present help in time of trouble. Sometimes His presence speaks and dead hopes arise. Sometimes He answers before You even ask. Other times His still, small voice says nothing, but the comfort comes in knowing He cares enough to listen while you are hurting. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Comfort in Your Waiting Place

"For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay." Habakkuk 2:3

Have you ever started out on a venture that took longer and was much harder than you anticipated? Maybe you've thought of quitting and writing it all off as a big mistake. You know you can't do that, but it feels good to talk about it for a moment, right? 

Perhaps you've been forging ahead so long you've forgotten what your initial goal was. That's OK. This happens when doing something bigger than yourself. 

You are in a prime place that I believe God finds irresistible. You are so dependent and vulnerable that if God does not step in, it's all over with anyway. You've run out of ideas, strength, and any other resource. Good! This may mean you've given your all for Him and He has to take it from here. He can and He will, My Friend. 

May I encourage you to find comfort in this place prickly with uncertainty? Lay your head on the stone of stuck and look toward Heaven. Rest your back in this corner you feel painted, pushed, and backed into and watch what happens next.  God has set the stage for His grand entrance.  (I've learned sometimes God doesn't make His appearance right away. His silence allows time for rest and contemplation.) Then, at the proper time, He steps in. It looks different for each of us, but it's always like a ray of light after a dark season; a word of hope or direction after a long silence. Before you know it, you're back on track. You're more certain, you're revived and full of purpose again. If you think back, you'll see you've been here before, the stakes just seem higher, but the Most High was still there! You didn't come this far to miss out on what's next. Each challenge is a muscle-builder against the next giant. Get rested, get realigned, and then get ready to rise to applaud the King because He IS coming! His shadow will fall on your circumstance and bring joy to your heart and glory to Himself.