Monday, May 31, 2010

Not My Ways • Habakkuk 1

"Brace yourself for a shock. 
Something's about to take place and 
you're going to find it hard to believe. 
I'm about to raise up Babylonians to punish you." 

Habakkuk 1:5-6a

Oh Mighty God!

You are all powerful!
You are high and lifted up!

Your ways are not my ways.
You are completely original
in all that you say and do.

Thank you that I can come to You
and bring my confusion, my questions,
my lack of understanding.

You do not turn me away,
You do not turn me back to dust.

You tell me only what I need to know.

In Your mighty hand, even "big and powerful"
Babylon became a useful tool, bent and conformed
to Your will. Used as You saw fit.

Humbly I bow before You.
In awe, I kneel at Your feet.

"I don't think the way you think. 
The way you work isn't the way I work." 
God's Decree. 
"For as the sky soars high about the earth, 
so the way I work surpasses the way you work, 
and the way I think is beyond the way you think." 

Isaiah 55:8-9

"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver."Who said anything about safe? 
'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."

— C.S. Lewis (The Chronicles of Narnia)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bathed in Sunlight • Isaiah 58:6-12

"This is the kind of fast day I'm after:
   to break the chains of injustice,
   get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
   free the oppressed,
   cancel debts.
What I'm interested in seeing you do is:
   sharing your food with the hungry,
   inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
   putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
   being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
   and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
   The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
   You'll call out for help and I'll say, 'Here I am.'"

"If you get rid of unfair practices,
   quit blaming victims,
   quit gossiping about other people's sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
   and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
   your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
   I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
   firm muscles, strong bones.
You'll be like a well-watered garden,
   a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
   rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You'll be known as those who can fix anything,
   restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
   make the community livable again."

Isaiah 58:6-12

Dear Lord, thank You for showing us how
You want us to live. Please open my eyes to the 
opportunities You place in my life to be generous and giving
to those who are in need. Help me to be available to my
family not only by my presence, but by giving to them
generously, willingly and with much love. 
Help me to willingly give generously to all 
You place in my life. 

Friday, May 28, 2010

Bare Faced • James 5

Friends, don't complain about each other. 
A far greater complaint could be 
lodged against you, you know. 
The Judge is standing just around the corner. 
James 5:9

Make this your common practice: 
Confess your sins to each other and 
pray for each other so that you can 
live together whole and healed.
The prayer of a person living right with God 
is something powerful to be reckoned with. 
James 5:16

We all walk in human skin.
Bearing the reality of the Fall within our very core.

How quickly logs sprout up in my eyes.

Seeing you through the forest of my own failings,
I choose to focus on yours.

I will stand one day before the Judge of our Hearts
not for what you have done, but for what is mine alone.

I cannot walk beside you
if I hold myself above you.

Tearing away the mask,
I can show you the reality in my life.

I am no better than you.

Walking together, bare faced,
we can lift each other up when we fall.

Together we walk in the Light
toward the Home of our hearts.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Draw Close to God • James 4

When you kneel down before the Lord 
and admit your dependence on Him, 
He will lift you up and give you honor. 
James 4:10 NLT

I want so much to have my way,
do it myself, share my point of view,
give my opinion of others and what they are doing.

I see what someone else has,
what everyone else has (or so it seems)
and that is what I want.

I listen to the whisperings in my ear
that tell me that I can have more,
do more, be more.


They are all lies.

Apart from You, I can do NOTHING!

I see what someone else is doing
and I think it is wrong, or how they are
going about it is wrong.

I criticize, tear down, condemn.
I think I know best, how they should live,
what they should do, where they should go.

Who am I to be their judge and jury?
What do I know? Do I know every detail,
every thought, every motive?
Do I know their destiny? Do I hold it in my hands?

My way, my desires, my "strength",
my opinion, when I choose to follow them
and fight for them all lead to chaos,
destruction and death.

You want ALL of me.

All my thoughts, all my wants,
all my desires, all my strength,
all my mind, all my heart.

So let God work His will in you. 
Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. 
Say a quiet ye to God and He'll be there in no time. 
Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. 
Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. 
The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. 
Get down on your knees before the Master; 
it's the only way you'll get on your feet." 
James 4:7-10 MSG

Oh Father, how willful and proud and full of myself I can be! Why I think that I can do so much better than you is beyond me. I pour contempt on my selfishness, independence and pride. Please, continue to root them out of my life. Purify me, Lord. Wash me clean. I need You and only You. I want to go Your way, in Your strength, in Your time. Please help me to see what You want me to do and to do it.

If you know the right thing to do a
nd don't do it, that, for you, it evil.
James 4: 17 MSG

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My Heart's Overflow • James 3

This is scary: You can tame a tiger, 
but you can't tame a tongue—it's never been done. 
James 3:7

My tongue can do so much damage. 
It has the power of life and death.

My tongue reveals what is deep inside, 
what hides in the darkest parts of me.

Deathly darts fly from a heart that holds darkness.

Only a heart full of life and light 
can produce words of light and life.

My tongue reveals the fruit of my life.

Please cleanse my heart, Lord. 
Teach me to live well, live wisely, live humbly. 
Make me holy, Lord! 
Teach me to get along with others, 
treating them better than I treat myself. 
Your wisdom brings life and light, 
it is gentle and brings many blessings.

Lord, I see our family as a little community. 
Please help us to do the hard work it takes 
to get along and live right with You. 
Teach us how to treat each other with honor and dignity.

Do you want to be counted wise, 
to build a reputation for wisdom? 
Here's what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly.
It's the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts.
James 3:13

Real wisdom, God's wisdom, begins with a holy life 
and is characterized by getting along with others. 
It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, 
not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. 
You can develop a healthy, robust community 
that lives right with God and enjoy its results only 
if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, 
treating each other with dignity and honor. 
James 3:17-18

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Faith Revealed • James 2

Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time.
James 2:13

There is so much in this chapter! 
But, due to a real life lesson, 
I need to share this verse and how the Lord 
used it in my life this morning.

You see, after I posted this verse to my status 
on Facebook, I had a pop quiz on it.

"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, 
when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. 
You know that under pressure, your faith-life is 
forced into the open and shows its true colors." 
James 1:2-3

Through a difficult conversation with a friend, 
my mercy fruit was tested and what was revealed 
was instead a root of judgment.

As my friend poured out her feelings to me
the words that jumped to my lips
and rolled out of my mouth
did not encourage, lift up or give life.
Instead my words put her on the defense
and threw up a wall between us.

My words conveyed the judgment in my heart.
They showed that I expected
so much more from her.
Couldn't she see that she wasn't acting
like a real Christian?

My words revealed that I
thought she should perform,
cover up her initial feelings
and pretend that she had it all together.

Where was the mercy?

Thankfully, this conversation did not end 
with my judgment hanging out all over. 
Jesus came in and brought His mercy and forgiveness,
brought down the wall and restored relationship. 
Praise His Holy Name!

Our Holy Gardener is landscaping me 
with His Word. (See James 1:21.)
I am so thankful that He is at work and 
that He is making me into the Salvation-Garden 
He wants me to be!

But let me tell you, 
pulling these roots can sure be painful!

It is all well and good for me to read His Word 
and write beautiful shares about what 
He has showed me in His Word, 
but if I don't act on what He has showed me, 
what good is any of it?

Dear friends, do you think you'll get anywhere 
in this if you learn all the right words 
but never do anything? 
Does merely talking about faith 
indicate that a person really has it?
James 2:13-14

Dear Lord, thank You for allowing this test this morning.
Thank you for prompting me to come to You,
because when I did You showed me what was
happening. Thank you that You do not want us to
pretend or perform for You. You want real fruit that comes
from walking in faith, in Your power, as I rely on Your
Spirit to produce Your Good Fruit in my life.
Thank You for Your Word that instructs me in the Way
I should go. Help me to do more than just read it
and talk about it. Thank You for showing me that I need to
do more than just talk and share about Your Word.
Help me to, by faith, do what it says.
Please teach me what Mercy is and please grow
the fruit of Mercy in my life. Please rip out the roots
of judgment that I have so faithfully tended.
In Jesus' name, Amen.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Walking in Truth • James 1

Anyone who sets himself up as "religious" 
by talking a good game is self-deceived. 
This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. 

James 1:26

Agreement with truth,
liking what I read
does not plant it in my heart,
does not send roots down into
the deep soil of my soul.

Hearing does not equal doing.

Reading does not equal action.

Writing a beautiful psalm and posting it
on my blog does not mean that I have
taken one tiny move to walk out
what I have been shown.

I hate the word religious!

I think that I do not want to appear to be something I am not.

But have I been deceiving myself?

Have I thought that because I can shout a
resounding YES after I read something
I am now living it in my life?

Oh Father, I want what is true to come out.

Please search me and know me.
Please reveal the truth.
Reveal what is growing in the soil of my heart.

Tear out any weeds of self-deception,
tear out what is not of You.

Help me to put action to what You
show me in Your Word.

Help me to glimpse You at work
and give You my entire attention.

Help me to join You
as You work the soil in the garden of my life.

But whovever catches a glimpse of 
the revealed counsel of God — the free life! 
— even out of the corner of his eye, 
and sticks with it, 
 is no distracted scattered 
but a man or woman of action. 
That person will find delight and 
affirmation in the action. 

James 1:25

Friday, May 21, 2010

Blessings Flowing Down • Ruth 4

All the people in the town square that day, 
backing up the elders, said, "Yes, we are witnesses. 
May God make this woman who is 
coming into your household like Rachel and Leah, 
the two women who built the family of Israel. 
May God make you a pillar in Ephrathah 
and famous in Bethlehem! 
With the children God gives you from this young woman, 
may your family rival the family of Perez, 
the son Tamar bore to Judah." 
Ruth 4:11-12

The town women said to Naomi, "Blessed be God! 
He didn't leave you without family to carry on your life. 
May this baby grow up to be famous in Israel! 
He'll make you young again! 
He'll take care of you in old age. 
And this daughter-in-law who has brought him 
into the world and loves you so much, 
why, she's worth more to you than seven sons!"  
Ruth 4:14-15

The neighborhood women started calling him 
"Naomi's baby boy!" But his real name was Obed. 
Obed was the father of Jesse, 
and Jesse the father of David. 
Ruth 4:17

Blessings flowing all over!

The men of the village proclaimed blessings,
and the women, too.

God provided the biggest blessing –
one that no one that was alive that day
every saw with their own eyes.

May my words be full of blessing
as I go through my day – through my life.

May my eyes be open for the blessings
that You so freely give.

May my heart and my mouth overflow
with grateful praise to You my Lord
for all that You do, have done and will do.

May I be faithful with what You have blessed me with.

My life is not just about me, about my little time on earth.
May I be passing the blessings on down the line.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Willing and Ready • Ruth 3

Ruth said, "If you say so, I'll do it, just as you've told me." 

Ruth 3:5

When Ruth chose to cling to Naomi and go with her back to her homeland, she also chose Naomi's God to become her God. I do not know all about the ways things worked back in those days, but it would appear that because Ruth chose to go live with Naomi, she also placed herself under Naomi's authority.

So, when Naomi told Ruth her plan, Ruth agreed to do as Naomi said. She followed Naomi's plan completely, quietly going and doing and saying what she needed to do and say.

In doing this, stepping out and doing what Naomi told her to do, she was following God's will.

She could have kept on trying to provide for Naomi and herself in her own strength or she could have waited around hoping that one day a man would come and knock on the door and sweep her away.

She chose to place her full dependence on God, being willing to do what He made clear she was to do. She had to ready and willing to go and do and say what He told her to do and say.

God uses various ways to show us what He wants us to do. And one of those ways is He speaks to us through fellow believers. Often it is when we are in accountable relationships with other believers, He will use them to guide us, rebuke us, convict us or spur us on to doing something for Him.

Lord, thank you for the people You have placed in my life who You use to speak to me. Thank you for the conversation I had this morning that You used to reveal to me some areas in my life where I need to act. Please help me to keep my entire attention focused on what You are doing and not to get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. Thank you that You will help me to deal with whatever hard things that come when the time comes. (Matt. 6:34) Please help me to be willing to go and do and say what You want me to, when You want me to.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Faith Expressed in Love • Ruth 2

Boaz answered her, "I've heard all about you—
heard about the way you treated your mother-in-law 
after the death of her husband, 
and how you left your father and mother
and the land of your birth and have come to live 
among a bunch of total strangers. 
God reward you well for what you've done—
and with a generous bonus besides from God, 
to whom you've come seeking protection under his wings." 

Ruth 2:11-12

What matters is something far more interior: 
faith expressed in love.

Galatians 5:3

Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; 
that's how freedom grows. 
For everything we know about God's Word 
is summed up in a single sentence: 
Love others as you love yourself. 
That's an act of true freedom.

Galatians 5:14

She was a foreigner.

There she was in a strange place, far from home
with another to care for and provide for.

What was she to do?

Moving to this land she chose
to make their God her own.
She chose to make Him her refuge.

Physically her life may not have been very free,
but already she was walking in the freedom
of her Lord.

Stepping out in faith, she went out to
serve and provide for her loved one.

Faith expressed in love.

Her reputation proceeded her.
They all knew who she was and what
she had done.

Eyes had been watching
and they saw love, devotion,
faith and faithfulness.

Fruit blossomed in her life,
there for all to see.

She made God her refuge,
she hid in the shadow of His wings.

Ever so faithfully, so tenderly
God saw her, welcomed her,
showed her favor and provided for her.

Father, help me to live my life fully trusting You. Help me to step out and express my faith in love and to use my freedom to serve in love those You have placed in my life. Thank You that You see me, welcome me, show me favor and provide for me. Thank you for being my refuge, thank you for hiding me in the shadow of Your wing.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

So Help Me God • Ruth 1

But Ruth said, "Don't force me to leave you; 
don't make me go home. 
Where you go, I go; and where you live, I'll live. 
Your people are my people, your God is my god; 
where you die, I'll die, 
and that's where I'll be buried, so help me God—
not even death itself is going to come between us!"

When Naomi saw that Ruth had her heart 
set on going with her, she gave in. 
And so the two of them traveled on together to Bethlehem. 
Ruth 1:16-19

Why did she stay with Naomi?

She could have turned back,
she could have stayed with in her land,
with her people, with their gods.

What had she seen,
what did she learn
as a member of Naomi's household?

Did she meet You
as she lived among Naomi and her family?

And now Naomi – bereft, lonely, lost –
needs to be brought back to You.

Full of faith, Ruth sticks by Naomi's side
and lovingly carries her back home, back to You.

Ruth holds firmly to Naomi and goes with her
to a strange land, to a place she is a foreigner
and boldly takes You to be her God.

Live Free

To live creatively – fully embracing and being
all that You made me for – is to live free.

With You, Jesus, life is truly to its fullest.
You made me to run, to fly, to be free.

In You, and only You, I find who I am.
You are the Source of creativity, of life, of freedom.

The liar tells us that You restrict us –
that You keep us from all that is creative and free and complete.

But as we listen to him and get drawn from You –
our lives begin to wither, close in, deconstruct.

Apart from You we find ourselves carrying around
testaments to our neediness.
We find ourselves locked in prisons of our own making,
bent under shame, guilt and pain.

Apart from You our souls cry out, longing to run free,
longing to be who You made us to be.
Longing to live freely, creatively.

In You there is Life and Health and Peace.

We come – like the bleeding woman in the midst of the crowd –
reaching out our hand toward the hem of your robe.
And You welcome us like the Prodigal's father –
running to us, arms flung wide,
burying us in Your embrace.

As I give my entire attention to You –
finding my life embedded in You
then I truly live.

Bit by bit, You strip away
all that I had been clinging to –
all that I had been trying to find my life in.

And little by little You reveal who I am –
who You made me to be.

As I live freely, creatively in You my desire to judge others fades –
as I realize that they, too, need You.
They, too, will find their true selves in You.

In You – they, too, will
Live Free.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Live Creatively • Galatians 6

 (Painting by Gracie)

Live creatively, friends. 

Galatians 6:1


Make a careful exploration of who you are a
nd the work you have been given, 
and then sink yourself into that. 
Don't be impressed with yourself. 
Don't compare yourself with others. 
Each of you must take responsibility for doing 
the creative best you can with your own life. 

Galatians 6:4-5

For my part, I am going to boast about nothing 
but the Cross of our Master, Jesus Christ. 
Because of that Cross, 
I have been crucified in relation to the world, 
set free from the stifling atmosphere 
of pleasing others and fitting into 
the little patterns that they dictate. 
Can't you see the central issue in all this? 
It is not what you and I do—s
ubmit to circumcision, reject circumcision. 
It is what God is doing, 
and he is creating something totally new, a free life! 
All who walk by this standard are the true Israel of God—
his chosen people. Peace and mercy on them! 

Galatians 6:14-16

Breathing in deep all that You are.

You are the Creator.
I have been made in Your image.
Your Spirit dwells within me.

You want me to be creative.
To take what You have given me,
who You have made me to be
and live in creative freedom as You
lead me throughout my life.

Oh how sad it must make You
when we cower in our little boxes,
being restricted by rules You did not
give us, shunning people
for mistakes they have made,
instead of lifting them up in love.

You are so gentle and patient with me.
Help me to be that way with those
You have placed in my life.
Graciously building into their lives,
helping them carry their burdens, and
gently correcting them when they go astray.

You have made me unique, special,
with my own journey to take as I follow You.
Help me not compare myself to others,
but to stay focused on You and what You
have for me to do.

You are at work in me!
You are creating a new life in me,
around me, through me.

Thank you, Jesus!

Free Indeed • Galatians 5

My counsel is this: 
Live freely, animated and 
motivated by God's Spirit. 
Galatians 5:16

I have been set free to live free,
why do I want to return to bondage?

Following the law
wraps those chains
tightly around my wrists and ankles.

I set up my religious rules
and as I follow them
I cut myself off from Christ
and then I walk around wondering why
I am not connecting with Him.

Focusing on Christ –
following Him where ever He leads –
that brings freedom –
that brings connection to Him.

Trusting Him completely –
Who He is, what He has done is enough!

Freedom grows as I use it to serve
those in my life in love.

Freedom is destroyed when I use it
to serve myself.

When I live my life freely,
animated by the Holy Spirit,
I will not follow my selfishness.

Free life, lived for others, brings more life,
it brings fruit.

Following the law, following myself,
removes the hope that fruit will come.

Oh Lord, help me to trust You so completely that I once and for all throw aside the chains of the law, the chains of myself. Lift my eyes, my heart, my mind to You so that my eyes are turned away from my little rules, my wants, my way. Take my hands in yours and lead me where You want me to go. That is when I can run and not be weary, that is when I can be all that You made me to be. Help me to step away from the "safety" of my little box to run wildly through the fields with You.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Truth-Teller • Galatians 4

And now have I suddenly become your enemy 
simply by telling you the truth? 
I can't believe it.

Those heretical teachers go to great lengths
to flatter you, but their motives are rotten. 
They want to shut you out of 
the free world of God's grace 
so that you will always depend on them 
for approval and direction, making them feel important. 
Galatians 4:16-17

Oh Lord!

I want to be a truth-believer and a truth-teller!

Please strip away all that is false,
all that keeps me from You.

Strip away any desire I have for my own way.

Going my own way causes so much trouble and grief.

Your way is life and peace.

My way is death.

I am Your child!

Your Spirit within me cries out,
"Daddy! Poppa!"

Why would I ever want to go back
into slavery?

Why do I look for chains to slap around
my wrists?

I am Your child!

All that is Yours is mine!

Oh Thank You, Jesus!
Thank You, Father!

I choose to walk in freedom today.

Help me to seek truth,
know truth,
believe truth and
speak truth always.

I want to be a truth-teller.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Receiving God's Life • Galatians 3

"...only crazy people would think 
they could complete by their own efforts 
what was begun by God."
Galatians 3:3

"Answer this question: 
Does the God who lavishly provides 
you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, 
working things in your lives you 
could never do for yourselves, 
does he do these things because of 
your strenuous moral striving or 
because you trust him to do them in you?" 
Galatians 3:5

"The person who lives in right 
relationship with God does it 
by embracing what God arranges for him. 
Doing things for God is the opposite of 
entering into what God does for you."
Galatians 3:11

It's too good to be true, isn't it?

But it is true.



Eternal Life

Real Life

It's all mine for the taking!

There is absolutely nothing 
I can do on my own 
to get what You have given me.

I just have to respond, accept, 
to live on the basis of
what You say You will do.


Believing that You will work 
out in me what You have already begun.

Living by my own effort, 
apart from You
guarantees failure.
You set me right. 

I live in right relationship with You
by embracing what 
You arrange for me.

I receive Your life through belief.

I continue in Your life,
in real life,
by belief.

No rules, no strivings,
nothing can achieve for me
what simple belief can.

Thank you, Jesus! 

I choose to enter into what
You have done for me.

Please show me any way 
that I am trying to 
live by the law in my life, 
trying to earn what You have 
given freely.

I want real life.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Personal and Free • Galatians 2

What actually took place is this: 
I tried keeping rules and working my head off 
to please God, and it didn't work. 
So I quit being a "law man" so that 
I could be God's man. 
Christ's life showed me how, 
and enabled me to do it. 
I identified myself completely with him. 
Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. 
My ego is no longer central. 
It is no longer important that I appear righteous 
before you or have your good opinion, 
and I am no longer driven to impress God. 
Christ lives in me. 
The life you see me living is not "mine," 
but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, 
who loved me and gave himself for me. 
I am not going to go back on that.
Galatians 2:19-21

In Christ alone
my hope is found.

Rules are a false foundation
that seem so good and strong.

But who is able to completely
live by and abide by them
all the time?

Jesus, You truly have done it all.

You came and so simply and plainly
demonstrated how to live.

You did only what You
saw the Father doing.

You did only what He
told You to do.

The words You spoke
were His words.

You lived in constant
contact and fellowship
with the Father.

You stood trial in my place,
and accepted the sentence of death
in my place.

You gave Your life
for mine
as payment for my sin.

And then, You broke the power
of sin and death
through Your resurrection!

Through Your life,
I can now truly live.

Christ in me.

Personal and free
I live in faith in You.

Rules bring death,
faith in You brings
a living relationship with God.

Remove from my life
any way that I may be
trying to rely on the law
to improve myself, to impress You.

In Christ alone,
my hope is found.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Knowing the Meaning of Grace and Peace • Galatians 1

"So I greet you with the great words, 
grace and peace
We know the meaning of those words because 
Jesus Christ rescued us from this evil world we're in 
by offering himself as a sacrifice for our sins. 
God's plan is that we all experience that rescue. 
Glory to God forever! Oh, yes!"
Galatians 1:3-5

Their response was to recognize 
and worship God because of me! 
Galatians 1:24

Unmerited favor is mine.


Nothing I have done, do or will ever do
can earn Your favor.


All is well. Calm has come.

Sweet peace is mine.

Because of You.

Only by You and only through You
can I have grace and peace.

Full rescue – unmerited favor and peace is for all.

Freedom has come for all.

Can they see as they look at me
the grace and peace
You came to give to all?

Do they recognize You in me?

Please, help me to fully accept Your
grace and peace – to live in them so completely
that anyone who looks at me will see You and
worship You.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Singing Myself into His Presence

Psalm 100 

On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter,
sing yourselves into his presence.

Know this: God is God, and God, God.
He made us; we didn't make him.
We're his people, his well-tended sheep.

Enter with the password: "Thank you!"
Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
Thank him. Worship him.

For God is sheer beauty,
all-generous in love,
loyal always and ever. 

I just wasn't feeling it this morning.

I wanted to have my usual meeting with You
over a cup of coffee and a side of toast.

But the night had been long.

Sleep still beckoned to my eyes, to my head.

The Words I read at first just laid there
on the crisp page. 

The dullness settled. 

Oh how it tugs at my very core.

Calling me to burrow down, 
to cover myself all up in 
the tang of sadness –
the melancholy wants me
to stay, to dive deeper.

A white-tailed deer drinks from the creek;
   I want to drink God,
      deep draughts of God.
   I'm thirsty for God-alive.
   I wonder, "Will I ever make it—
      arrive and drink in God's presence?" 

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
      Why are you crying the blues?
   Fix my eyes on God—
      soon I'll be praising again.
   He puts a smile on my face.
      He's my God.  

Psalm 42:1-3, 5

Give me your lantern and compass,
      give me a map,
   So I can find my way to the sacred mountain,
      to the place of your presence,
   To enter the place of worship,
      meet my exuberant God,
   Sing my thanks with a harp,
      magnificent God, my God.

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
      Why are you crying the blues?
   Fix my eyes on God—
      soon I'll be praising again.
   He puts a smile on my face.
      He's my God. 

Psalm 43:3-5

Turning from that bitter-sweet sadness
can be so hard.


Why does is my heart drawn to sadness?

Why does my heart want to sing the blues?

I choose You, Lord.

You teach my heart to sing.

You lift my head and help me see the beauty – 
the sunshine, the green leaves waving in the breeze,
the sleepy smiles of my kids as they crawl from bed...

You are with me. 

You hear my cry.

I will enter Your gates with thanksgiving,
I will enter Your courts with praise.

I will sing myself into Your presence.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Fight Continues • Esther 8

The king's order authorized the Jews 
in every city to arm and defend themselves 
to the death, killing anyone who threatened them 
or their women and children, and confiscating for 
themselves anything owned by their enemies.
Esther 8:11

And that about wraps it up. God is strong, 
and he wants you strong. 
So take everything the Master has set out for you, 
well-made weapons of the best materials. 
And put them to use so you will 
be able to stand up to everything 
the Devil throws your way. 
This is no afternoon athletic contest 
that we'll walk away from 
and forget about in a couple of hours. 
This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish 
against the Devil and all his angels. 
Ephesians 6:10-12

On that day they were granted permission
to stand and fight, to take back what had
been taken from them and to defend themselves
and their families.

The battle rages on to this day
not with weapons forged of steel,
not against enemies that bleed when cut.

Enemies who disguise themselves
in cloaks of "good" and "comfortable" while
they whisper enticing lies into our ears
threaten us from every side.

How willingly we at times surrender to these
enemies unseen, chained at wrist and ankle,
following along with blinded eyes.

Truth and Light wash the lies from our eyes and ears,
revealing what was hidden.

Grasping The Word, we begin the fight. With prayers
streaming from our lips we face head on what had
made us cower in fright.

Righteousness and truth surround us as we run forth in
the strength of the Gospel.

Peace flows in rivers around us
as we deflect the fiery arrows with faith.

Salvation is ours as we shout out the truth in faith –
gathering all who will come with us.

Daily we continue our fight
empowered by our victorious Savior.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fruit Revealed • Esther 7

Queen Esther answered, 
"If I have found favor in your eyes, 
O King, and if it please the king, 
give me my life, and give my people their lives.
Esther 7:3

She came asking for life
not only for herself, but for all her people.

He came demanding death,
seeking to destroy a whole people
out of hatred for one man.

Two hearts cultivated in
very different ways.

Revealing what had been planted
deep within their soil.

At "such a time" their fruit came forth
bursting with the truth of who they were.

Life sprung forth from her,
death spewed out from him.

Daily I plant seeds in the
soil of my heart.

Daily I tend the garden of my soul.

The fruit reveals what has been planted;
how I have tended to my garden.

Help me, Father, to plant seeds of life and
to stay connected to the Vine.

Remove the deadly weeds that crowd out life
and produce death.

Help me to choose to feed and tend my garden
with the water of your Word and the Sunshine
of obedience.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Honor... Who? • Esther 6

The king asked, "What great honor 
was given to Mordecai for this?"
"Nothing," replied the king's servants 
who were in attendance. 
"Nothing has been done for him." 
Esther 6:3

"If this Mordecai is in fact a Jew, 
your bad luck has only begun. 
You don't stand a chance against him—
you're as good as ruined." 
Esther 6:13

Father, You see what I do.

I want them to see,
I want the glory for what I do.

Just a simple word of recognition,
is that too much?

What am I really seeking?

Who am I serving?

What am striving for?

Nothing that I do on my own, for my own glory,
can last.

All that is good and right and lasting within me
comes from You.

You honor those who honor You.
In Your time.

It is not for me to promote myself, to
seek honor for who I am or what I have done.

You see what is deep inside.
You know what is in my heart,
what is driving me to do what I do.

Working for words that float off into the wind
leaves me empty-hearted and empty-handed.

Working for You, for Your glory,
trusting You to work it all out for my good
knowing that You love me
fills me, fulfills me, lets Your glory flow from me.

Change the way I think, Father.
Teach me to do it all for You,
the God who really sees.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

He was Pleased with Her • Esther 5

When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court,
he was pleased with her 
and held out to her the gold scepter 
that was in his hand. So Esther approached 
and touched the tip of the scepter. 
Esther 5:2

He was pleased with her.
So he held out the scepter –
the power of life or death
and called her to him.

How different life in the palace
must have been.
Nothing like her Jewish home
tucked away in exile.

So many things to come
between this man and his wife.

So many differences.

So many things that went against
all she ever knew and believed.

And yet, she pleased him.

She found a way to be pleasing to
her husband in the midst of
all the contradictions.

She had no idea such a test
would come.

She held tight to her God
and the people of her God.

And yet, she was pleasing to him.

Patiently, waiting on God,
she moved forward into the unknown.

Monday, May 3, 2010

For Such a Time • Esther 4

"If you persist in staying silent at a time like this,
help and deliverance will arrive for the Jews 
from someplace else; but you and your family 
will be wiped out. Who knows? 
Maybe you were made queen 
for just such a time as this." 
Esther 4:14

 "Go and get all the Jews living in Susa together.
Fast for me. Don't eat or drink for three days, 
either day or night. I and my maids will fast with you.
If you will do this, I'll go to the king, 
even though it's forbidden. If I die, I die." 
Esther 4:15-16

God's will will be done.
Sometimes He calls me to do something 
very specific, just for me to do.
For such a time....

But I have a choice.
To follow and obey or to stay and 
accept the consequences of disobedience.

His will will be done.

I do not have to walk the road
of obedience alone.

Just as Esther called for the Jews of Susa
to join her and her maids in fasting,
I have surrounding me members of The Body
who can join me in prayer, fasting and encouragement.

Thank You, Father, that what You 
set out to do will be done. 
You are all powerful! You are the mighty God! 
Thank You that You will do 
what You say You will do. 
Thank You for allowing me to be used by You
in the accomplishment of Your will. 
Thank You for the support of The Body,
that I am never alone. 
Help me to remember to share 
what You are doing in my life with others 
and to seek their support as I follow You in obedience.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


With You there is always hope.
Not hope like the world gives – 
Wishful thinking, pipe dreams, name it and claim it, 
pennies in fountains –
My hope is built on nothing less than
You, Jesus, and Your righteousness!

You are the namer of stars – You're their creator, too!
You are the freer of slaves.
You are the healer of all sickness.
You are the builder of mansions.
You are the cleanser of all sin.
You are the giver of live.

Why do I worry?
Why do I bother with doubt 
and self pity?

You are my God!
You are my Savior!
You are my Great High Priest!
You are my Friend.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Stealing Glory • Esther 3

When Haman saw for himself that Mordecai 
didn't bow down and kneel before him, 
he was outraged.
Esther 3:5

It's not all about me – at all.
My purpose, my reason for being is to glorify You.
When people look at my life
they should not be seeing me and
admiring how wonderful I am,
They should see You in all Your glory
shining through all that I say and do.

Pride rears its ugly head once more.
Its root has not been destroyed.
Half- heartedly I have hacked at it thinking
I was bringing it to an end.
But did I really want to?

"Don't they realize all the time and effort
I put in to this?"

"Can't they see how hard I'm working?"

"Why do I have to do that?"

Like a hungry rag-clad beggar stealing
a roll at a banquet I tuck bits of Your
glory away to keep for myself – hoping
someone will see and throw me a
scrap of praise, a bit of acknowledgment.

In the midst of my tantrum I begin to feel You
start to stroke my hair, rub my shoulder,
draw me into Your embrace.

"Shhh. Shhh." You whisper in my ear.
"You don't have to fight for love or recognition.
I love you. I am here with you. I notice everything you do.
I know every thought in your head and every word that
comes out of your mouth. I knew everything about you
before I laid the foundation of the world!"

"Live for Me. Live in Me. Let My life be yours. 
Don't worry aboutseeking glory or acknowledgment from man. 
I am the One who matters.
Give it all to Me, Christa. Leave it in my capable hands.
You are mine, I have called you by name. 
There is your glory."