25 June 2013

When God Lets Go ...


When God Lets Go ... This is what I have been thinking about this evening, actually for some time. Yet, it came back to mind when I heard this song today on my way home from work –

Colton Dixon –Never Gone
 

Truthfully, I was somewhat half-listening but, it was the chorus that got my attention:

'I’m still standing here
No I didn’t disappear
Now the lights are on
See I was never gone
I let go of your hand   
To help you understand
With you all along
Oh, I was never gone'

 

If I am honest, I have to admit that I struggled with this one part of the song:
‘I let go of your hand … to help you understand'
 
Why would an all-powerful God and loving Father let go of your hand? Where is the compassion in that … and how do you come to a place of understanding, particularly since the words which immediately follow it seem so contradictory?

When I got home, I went on YouTube and listened to the song a couple more times. And as I meditated on the words of the song, my thoughts went back to when my children were small. When they were learning how to walk, there was a point where I had to let go of their hand. Sure, I stayed close to ensure that they would not hit their head on the edge of a coffee-table or hit the floor the wrong way. However, there were also times when I evaluated the risk … and let them fall.

I made sure it was a safe-fall and that they would not hurt themselves. Yet, I also understood that the ‘safe-fall’ was a necessary tool for their growth, every bit as much as me letting go of their hand in the first place.

You see, if I never let go of their hand, they would never learn to balance. If I never allowed them to fall, they would never learn perseverance, they would never master the necessary function of picking oneself up after a fall. Yet they always knew, if they needed me (truly needed me), I was right there. In letting go, I helped them become more self-sufficient and started them on their way to becoming the great men that I know today.

Even as I have struggled over the past several years, feeling like 'God let go’ – I know that His ways are perfect and that the release of His hand (temporarily) does not mean that He is absent. It simply means that He wanted me to grow some more – to gain more spiritual balance, to strengthen my legs of faith. If He never left me in a dark place, how would I ever learn that there was nothing to fear? How would I understand that, just because I could not see Him, did not mean He was not there?
 
 

This week I have been going into work early. So, when I get up in the morning, it is still very dark. This morning, it was extremely dark and, when the alarm went off, I had to step carefully. You see, my Miniature Pinscher was in the room and he is a very small dog so I have to be careful. I could not see him, but I knew he was there. Further, because I know his nature, I knew it was highly likely that he was right beside my bed. He likes to stay close … extremely close … and I’ve come to know that he is always present … even when I cannot see him. Pets are amazing, dogs especially.

Yet, how much more amazing are the ways and the presence of God? In the darkest places, we develop a confidence that He is ever-present. This part of the walk of faith is not instantaneous, nor is it willed into being. It is a learned behavior. As we get to know Him, to understand His character and to see how He interacts with us and others in a myriad of situations – we begin to trust Him more. Then, out of that knowledge and trust, we begin to worship Him more deeply. Subsequently, we experience His presence at an entirely different level, with enhanced perspective and fresh understanding – which is what we desired all along. Over the years, I have come to realize that it is not God’s will that I tend to struggle with as much as it is His way. I love the product (His wonderful plans for me); it is the process that can be challenging at times. True, the growth process can be very challenging. Yet, it is always worth it.

Know this tonight … you are not alone

He has never, ever left your side

No matter how dark it has been

No matter how dark it still may be …

When the light has returned to your situations and circumstances (to your life), you too will find … He has been with you all the time.

 
'He Himself has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you.'
Hebrews 13:5
 
Sending much love your way …
Have a Blessed Evening!
 

21 June 2013

unfailing love


The LORD will command His loving kindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me – A prayer to the God of my life. Psalm 42:8

 
He commands His loving-kindness – when life is bright and all is well

His song remains – with me, when life is dark and all appears lost
 
While I can pray for His loving kindness –
In truth, it is a reality before I utter a word

And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear’ Isaiah 65:24

His mercies are truly new every morning … every moment

When I fail – and I do often
His love is constant, unchanging and unfailing

He forgives me and assures me that He will not leave me in my present state – spiritually or naturally

I am so thankful for His mercy

My song of praise is present in every season of life.

Thank You Father for Another Day – for Your Unfailing Love
 
Chris Quilala/Jesus Culture - Your Love Never Fails
Hallelujah

16 June 2013

Father ... nothing and no one like him


Happy Father's Day!
 
What a wonderful day to celebrate fathers - not just today but every day. Yet somehow, Father's Day typically does not receive the same level of recognition as Mother's Day. It may be the differences between men and women and what is perceived to be valued by each group. However, I have come to learn (having once been married and raising three sons by myself), that one of the greatest honors you can bestow upon a man is respect. And there are so many qualties to respect and celebrate about those who are fathers or have been like a father to someone somewhere along the way.


Able v Balanced v Caring v Daring v Energetic v Godly

v Honest v Intelligent v Just v Kind v

Level-Headed v Mature v Nice v Optimistic v Patient

v Qualified v Resourceful v Strong v

Trustworthy v Understanding v Vital

Wise v Xenial (hospitable) v Young-at-Heart
v Zealous v

From A to Z there is nothing and no one like a ‘FATHER’
 
 
To all the dads out there – thank you for leading, caring, sharing and doing whatever is necessary to be there for your family and to help them realize all of the potential that God has placed in them. Whether you are a father biologically, by adoption or have simply been like a father to the people in your life, know that you fulfill an extremely vital role. And your efforts – while not always recognized, appreciated or celebrated – do make a difference.

 
To all the moms out there who have to be mom and dadI wish you a very special Father’s Day. Thank you for taking on the responsibility of a role that can never be completely fulfilled by a woman. Yet, despite that daunting reality, you are doing everything a father is called to do – being the spiritual head and covering for your family, instilling values, establishing identity, creating boundaries, providing for needs, developing discipline and establishing order. It is quite a job!



Thank you all for everything you do … 



Father GOD, I thank You for giving us the special gift of fathers. You have supplied a tangible and visual respresentation of what fatherhood is all about - the love, the care and concern. You have given us an opportunity to catch a glimpse of one of Your many amazing characteristics. On this day, I pray that You would bless all of the fathers, across the globe, with wisdom for every circumstance, strength for every challenge and a capacity to love which mirrors the love You have for us. Bless them abundantly with every natural and spiritual resource - equipping them to be the godly leaders that you have called them to be. May they recognize what an honor and privilege it is to share the title of 'father' with the most Amazing Father of all time. Bless their families and keep them in Your care. I pray all these things in the Matchless Name of Jesus Christ, our LORD and Savior.

 
Happy Father's Day to All ... Have a Truly Blessed Day! 

'A righteous man who walks in his integrity -
How blessed are his sons after him.'
Proverbs 20:7

08 June 2013

PRAISE BREAK ...


Just had to take a short break in all of this studying to …
PRAISE HIM!


He is Worthy ...   
He is Holy

 
  


David Crowder Band - After All (Holy)

 

‘… they rest not day and night, saying,
‘Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty,
Who was, and is, and is to come.'
Revelation 4:8


Happy Saturday!

So glad His mercies are new EVERY MORNING ... 
Because yesterday was a nightmare

TODAY ...
It's a brand new day!


THIS WEEKEND ...
Read & study, read & study and then ... read & study some more

What better way to start the day than some prayer, some reading, and this great song ...


TobyMac - Me Without You




'The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him.' Psalm 28:7
 
Have a Blessed Day!!!

02 June 2013

planted: thriving & flourishing ... anywhere


'They that are planted in the house of the LORD shall thrive and flourish …'

ANYWHERE

The actual verse, Psalm 92:13, states that 'they who are planted in the house of the LORD shall thrive and flourish in the courts [courtyard] of our God.'

Yet we know from Psalm 24:1, ‘The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it …’

It is a beautiful thing to know that, as children of the Most High God, we can thrive anywhere and everywhere – whether it is in the house of God, in our families, in the workplace, in our communities, or in government

We can thrive and flourish

Underneath the most difficult of circumstances – even those as hard as concrete – we have the ability to push through to the surface and experience not only the light of a new day, but the shining brightness of His glory constantly at work within our lives.

When we cannot see how or where He is working, He is giving us the strength to rise.

In seemingly impossible situations, He is still the God of all things possible.

Despite any adversity I may face – no matter how encasing or concealing – I have a living hope

As long as I remain rooted in Him, He supplies all I need to keep moving forward, to keep growing, to keep thriving. God is truly awesome!
 
 
Have a blessed day …

01 June 2013

Jesus ... with some skin


Yesterday was a challenging day –

If I am honest, it has been a challenging few weeks – with my mom taking ill and all of us having to adjust to a new normal – it has been hard. She is still doing physical therapy three times a week and has some lingering gaps with her short-term memory, a result of the mini-strokes which she suffered.

Added to that is the fact that my blood pressure has been quite high for the past couple of weeks. My doctor placed me on blood pressure medication Thursday to help get it under control.

And all of it has left me simply exhausted

So, when I awoke yesterday morning, the first words out of my mouth were, ‘GOD I NEED YOU … I NEED YOUR STRENGTH.’ More than desiring a response to the countless physical and material needs that are present in my life, my cry was, ‘God I need Your presence. I need to hear you and to feel You ... here.’

I know that He is present with me always. It is just that there are times when I need it be more than an internal knowing, I need an outward manifestation.

I finished praying and got ready for work. And, while I was at work, one of my co-workers stopped by my desk briefly. She was sharing how she went on a walk with Jesus that morning – how she was needing His presence. And as she spoke, she started to encourage me, telling me, ‘God is right here with you and every promise He made, He will fulfill … and is fulfilling.’ She went on to state that I should not grow weary but understand that, even if I cannot see how it is all coming together, He is doing everything He planned for me.

And I realized in that instance that God had done just what I had asked that morning …

He sent me Jesus with some skin –
To encourage and uplift, to offer hope and give strength
 
He let me know that He was present –
Still working, still caring, still loving
 
And He did it through a person

Just as He had stirred me many times to be His heart and hands and voice in the earth, He demonstrated His faithfulness to His Word, causing me to reap what I have sown on countless occasions.

Today – you may be the person needing ‘Jesus with some skin’, just like I was on Friday. You may need a hug more than you can describe. You may be in need of help, a financial miracle, a word of encouragement or someone to listen … truly listen. It is OK to honestly acknowledge your true feelings. He designed us with feelings. And while He does not desire for us to be ruled by emotion, I do not believe that He encourages us to deny the reality of those feelings either.

Know that God is attentive to everything that concerns you.

I am not telling you things you do not already know. However, it is easy to lose sight of the truth when challenges persist and the answers seem slow in arriving.

Yet Jesus is alive, and active and present.

Today – He also may be inviting you to partner with Him. He may be presenting you with the opportunity to be ‘Jesus with some skin’ to somebody else. It is an incredible thing which occurs when He uses you in that capacity. I know the times He has blessed me with that privilege, it always yields a result that goes so far beyond anything I could have ever done on my own.

You see, when the love of Christ compels you to touch the lives of others – it is the heart and the very presence of Christ which is heard and seen and felt by the recipient.

Practical Example (and I hope it is ok if I am completely transparent):
I am not a ‘hugger’. Despite those moments when I desperately need a hug [the hug-and-hold type of hug], I generally do not like to be touched by people. I mean, I hug my children and give them lots of love, but outside of that, I have had to work very hard at tearing down the invisible (but very tangible) walls that sometimes surround me. I have to make a conscious effort to let people into my world or to delve into theirs without their expressed invitation. Well, one day we were praying for a woman who had recently lost her husband and, expectedly, she was experiencing heartache and extreme loneliness. As we started to pray, I felt God nudge me to give her a hug and unexpectedly [in view of my struggles with physical closeness], I responded immediately and asked her if I could give her a hug. She responded affirmatively and as I hugged her, I started praying for her and speaking words of encouragement. And, I instantly knew God’s Holy Spirit was moving. I could not let her go for good while – and that is so unlike me. Later, someone shared with me how blessed she had felt by that experience. She wanted to know who that lady was that hugged her and she said, ‘It felt like Jesus was hugging me, and praying for me and speaking to me. I could feel His love.’

There are so many people out there who need something more than clich├ęs thrown their way. They are hurting in a way that cannot be explained and they are needing a faith that is tangible, a God who is tangible. And we have the awesome privilege of working with the LORD, allowing the love of Christ to shine through us so that we can respond to those (often silent) pleadings. We can be ‘Jesus with some skin’ through our giving, through words of encouragement, through serving others, through hugging others, through listening (truly listening) to others who are in need.

If you are in need of ‘Jesus with some skin’,
My prayer is that He will send someone your way TODAY.

If He is calling you to be ‘Jesus with some skin’,
I encourage you to answer that call.

He is alive … He just shows up in unexpected ways sometimes

TODAY – May you experience the wonder and power and reality of His love

Here is a song I heard Friday as I was driving home. It touched my heart and encouraged me. I pray it will do the same for you.

Blessings!

Natalie Grant - Alive