It’s His vision… delight yourself in Him.

polaroidDo you recall using one of these cameras?  This camera would give you a developed picture in a minute or so.  The picture would literally develop right before your eyes.

I recall going to Washington, DC in eighth grade with one of these cameras.  I was standing in front of Abe Lincoln’s statue at the Lincoln Memorial.  I remember being nervous with excitement as I took that photo.  The picture came out a bit blurry as a result. Over the years the picture has faded and became darker…. much more difficult to see.

Has God given you a vision for your life, family, church, community, or job?  Can you see what it is He wants you to become or do?  I think we become frustrated (at least I know I do) when we can see what He wants yet we are having to wait for the picture to develop.

We live in a world where everything is instant.  We take our phones and other digital gadgets and snap the picture and immediately look to see how well it turned out and immediately show others how great the shot is then immediately post it on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for the world to see.

I see “vision” kind of like the development of a Polaroid picture.  I look through the lens and see the future and press the red button to capture the vision.  The film comes out and over time the vision becomes reality.  It slowly develops into the vision I saw before I committed to it.  If you have ever owned one of these cameras you know that after some time the quality of the photo losses its luster… especially if it is not protected.  Just like with any vision we must protect what God has given.

One of the well-known promises in the Bible is Jeremiah 29:11,

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV).

It’s God’s vision.  Often-times we go through life and forget He has it all planned.  He has given us the Bible to help guide us in this life.  To encourage us when things are dark and without hope.  He gives us the Bible to build us up to encourage others who are in need.  Whatever the vision God has given you protect it, cultivate it, and share it with others.  Keep it before God… after-all it is His vision.  And when the days are long and you seem to think the vision will never come to pass, remember to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and He will give you these things.  (Matthew 6:33).

Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4, NIV)

My best for His glory

2013: Day 1.2013

New things bring about fresh excitement. A New car, a new house, a new job, a new relationship, and a New Year all bring about this fresh excitement. Today being January 1, all of us are probably going to make some sort of commitments to change. We are going to live better-healthier lives by joining the gym, start running, lose weight… the list goes on and on. Maybe for you it is not to get fit physically but rather to be fit spiritually. Both are important. Both can bring about healthier living and greater enjoyment of life.

I have my own, not so little, list of things I want to accomplish in this New Year. I’ve gone over this page -or so of notes in my journal – and the goal of everything on it is ultimately to be closer to God in some way. I want to surrender each point on my list to the will of God. I want to make this year – the year of looking up. I want this to be the year that Oswald Chambers would say, “My determined purpose is to be my utmost for His highest— my best for His glory.” This will start as I look up – from my knees – in prayer… Seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.

As you begin this New Year, and you focus on the spiritual aspect of your life, don’t forget the fact your decision to follow Jesus or not will have ramifications on those you love the most. Your decision will affect, either way, those you are around on a daily basis. It’s a choice you make. You can’t ignore the fact that if you choose not to make bold commitments for the Lord today you will be delaying or hindering the blessings that He wants to work through you for the sake of those around you – for His glory.

My choice this year is to:

  1. Look up
  2. Daily open my eyes to God’s wonder all around me
  3. Seize every opportunity to encounter God
  4. To be my utmost for His highest – my best for His glory

What do you choose for yourself as you start 2013? Is it for your glory? Or is it for His glory?

Look up and open your eyes…

I have been captivated by Margaret Feinberg’s new book Wonderstruck. Many other people have been too. It has barely been out a week and it’s already into the 2nd printing!! Before its release on Christmas day, I received an advanced copy of three chapters. The timing for me to read these chapters were definitely God ordained. And I believe God has inspired Margaret to write this book for such a time as this. I’m excited to start 2013 with Wonderstruck.

We are living in a time where the pressures of this world are very over-whelming. So many people I have talked with have lost their joy, their focus, the understanding of their purpose, and the wonder of God. I’m thankful I haven’t lost my job, my house, or anything like so many others have. I can say that other circumstances in life, both, past and present, have had me extremely over-burdened. These things have worked over-time to take the life right out of me for the past few years.

Last month, I was out for a fall run on Pine Mountain. I started out with one thing in mind… to get near to God and for things to change within my life. I am so glad I took the time to listen to God that day. I am thankful I am able to share with you some of the images from the pictures I took. God was speaking to me in ways I didn’t fully comprehend. I’m confident that God is not finished with what he began in me.

As I move into the year 2013, I have adopted one sentence from Wonderstruck that will be my life theme for the coming year.

God invites us to look up, open our eyes to the wonder all around us, and seize every opportunity to encounter him. (Margaret Feinberg, Wonderstruck, 27).

As I ran on the trail I stopped to take this photograph. Pine Mountain in the shadowsI began to run again and God whispered to me, “Stop and look up.” The sight was beautiful. What I saw were these leaves with the bright blue sky as the back drop. God had painted this beautiful canvas all around me. But it was in the invitation to look up that I really began to understand what his desire has been for me.

I have had my eyes focused on my journey, focused on my surroundings, focused on the darkness, focused on the past and ignoring the moment. His purpose and plan for my life and for your life is far greater than anything either one of us could imagine on our own. Pine Mountain Look Up

This moment is his. His invitation is for us to look up and open our eyes to the wonder all around us. He is all around us. He is inviting us to experience him beyond what we can see. He wants us to seize this moment. He wants us to take the hill and conquer this life and allow ourselves to encounter him.

Our battles are first won or lost in the secret places of our will in God’s presence, never in full view of the world. The Spirit of God seizes me and I am compelled to get alone with God and fight the battle before Him. Until I do this, I will lose every time. The battle may take one minute or one year, but that will depend on me, not God. (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, December 27).

As I look forward to this new year of 2013, my prayer is to get to know God in a fresh and new way… to encounter him. I pray you will also embark on this same journey to encounter him too. He is inviting all of his people to, look up, open our eyes to the wonder all around us, and seize every opportunity to encounter him.

Walking in God’s deep wisdom

As children, we all live with the thought of, “When I grow up I’m going to…..”

As a child, I dreamed of being an architect.  I had notebooks full of designs.  I charted my course in that direction and attended Middle Georgia College.  I made several discoveries that year.  One big discover was this choice was going to be really hard considering how challenged I was with Pre-Algebra.  I guess the greatest discovery I made was not in the classroom.  It was the world I found inside the pages of the Bible. I recall not being able to read enough and I looked for opportunities to share with others what I was discovering.

It was through the reading of God’s Word that I made decisions on how I was going to live and the path in life I was going to follow.  Reading Psalm 119:1-5 today reminded me of those days at Middle Georgia College.

You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God. You’re blessed when you follow his directions, doing your best to find him. That’s right—you don’t go off on your own; you walk straight along the road he set. (The Message).

Are you in love with God’s Word today?  Do you read His Word in hopes of getting closer to Him?  Are you freely giving yourself, your will, your dreams, and aspirations to him?  Stay the course whether or not you are living out those hopes and dreams.  In relentless pursuit, seek the wisdom of God.

Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! (Proverbs 3:5-7, The Message).

One way God reveals himself to us is through the Bible.  If the Bible is not a part of your daily life I encourage you to make it.  I bet that when you do He will help you stay the course.  Honestly, it’s not always easy.  Often times the road can seem unmarked.  Keep your eyes open for him.  Trust him today.  Take a moment or two and read Psalm 119.

I am confident He will help you finish the statement, “When I grow up I’m going to….” No matter what age you are today.

I absolutely love the desert

Oh how I miss living in the desert…

For too long now I have been living in a spiritual desert.  I’ve been camped out under the same rock trying to shield myself from the scorching heat of my stuckness.  I understand it’s time to journey on and explore this desert I find myself in.  I’m not sure what I have gained here while camped out underneath this rock but I know one day I will find meaning and understanding for this season.  One thought I am beginning to grasp is the need to rise above the mediocre and move toward the greatness God has destined.

We were visiting a church several weeks ago.  During the worship these lyrics jumped out at me, “All of my deserts are rivers of joy.” I mentioned I love the desert.  And when I look back at my time of physically living in the Southwest I see rivers of joy.  I look forward to looking back at this season of life and saying the same thing. 

I was reminded of John 14:12 this morning where Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” (New Living Translation).  God intends for each of us to be moving toward greatness.  He tells us here in John that we will do even greater works… but we must believe in him…  Even in the times of desert living.

Our lives have the propensity to become messy.  Everything about each one of us is not perfect.  Yet we try hard to make our lives look neat.  We want to make everything look perfect.  We attend churches with stained glass windows and/or churches with rock bands filling the room with great music, lights, and dry ice… all looking and sounding good.  But when it’s all torn down what really remains?  Hopefully, in both situations, relationships are being built so that when the stain glass windows and the music fades that the heart of it all will still be standing.

After having lived in the beautiful Southwest, I understand that there is a lot of life in the desert.  For me, its a beautiful place that is open with great views all around.  To some the land may look barren but it’s really wide open spaces full of excitement.  So much has adapted and been created to sustain life there.  I believe we will each spend our time in the desert of life.  It’s not a place we should avoid but rather take advantage of.  It’s there, in the stillness of the desert, we can draw close to God.  It’s a place for us to be able to sit back and enjoy looking into the face of God and keep our focus steadfast on Him. 

The desert at night is breath-taking!  The first time I ever stopped on New Mexico HWY 550, in between Albuquerque and Aztec, I realized I couldn’t see one foot in front of me due to the darkness.  But I could see more of God’s creation in the sky than I have before.  I never would have seen the beauty above me had I kept my focus on the darkness in front of me… I had to look up.  When we find ourselves in a desert place with darkness all around it’s not until we look up to God that we will see His glory.

Romans 5:2 in The Message says it best,

We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand – out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

If you find yourself today in a land that is dryer than you would like keep your eyes on Jesus.  Look to him and him alone for your joy.  We will not find joy looking in any other direction.

Thanks to Richard “Richee” Parks for the photo!

Growing Spiritually?

I often wonder why I find myself where I am in life.  Did I arrive on purpose or by accident?  Or was it a series of good or bad mistakes?  There’s not much around me that resembles the dream I once had.  Maybe the dream was just a personal fantasy not born of God.  Maybe the dream was born of God and yet I wouldn’t get out of the boat to walk on the water.  Maybe the past poor decisions is keeping me holding onto the shore instead of launching out into the deep waters of His provision.

I know we all grow at different paces… kind of like cycling.  We all respond to God’s leadership in different ways.  I also realize that the older I get the less likely I am to take risks like I did when I was younger.  I don’t ever want to get to the place where I settle down in life just because others think that is what I should do.  I don’t want to settle because that’s what my circumstances dictate to me.  I may ride an older bicycle but I’m still pedaling.  I’m still going the distance.  I may not be getting there as fast… but I’m getting there.  The point is to not give up.  No matter where you find yourself keep striving for the goal.  We aren’t here specifically to please others or to impress them.  Keep reaching, learning, and growing in Jesus.  Keep your eyes fixed on God in Jesus.

“…the moment you realize that God’s purpose is to get you into the right relationship with Himself and then with others, He will reach to the very limits of the universe to help you take the right road.” Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, July 1.

“If you find yourself asking, “I wonder why I’m not growing spiritually with God?”— then ask yourself if you are paying your debts from God’s standpoint. Do now what you will have to do someday. Every moral question or call comes with an “ought” behind it— the knowledge of knowing what we ought to do.”  Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, July 1.

The Posture of Prayer

I watched Little House on the Prairie last night.  It happened to be an episode I had never seen before.  The Ingles have a son, James. James was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He walked into a store and was shot walking into a robbery.  All the doctors, friends, and family of Charles Ingles told him to give up there was not any hope for his son.  Charles believed there was hope.  Everyone else thought he was crazy and that his faith was going to let him down.

He took off with his son and camped with his son to meet with God.  Charles built an altar and prayed there for his son.  He did something radical.  And in the eyes of others what he was doing was weird, strange, and crazy.  Yet, he believed God was going to restore the health of his son. So he assumed a posture of prayer by faith that God was going to do something miraculous.

Prayer is much more than ourselves.  Prayer is so much more than the desires of our hearts.  I know for me that way too often prayer becomes more about me than it is about  God.  There are times in life when circumstances can seem so desperate.  Those are the times the prayers I seem to speak that tend to be more about me than God.

Jesus was matter-of-fact: “Embrace this God-life. Really embrace it, and nothing will be too much for you. This mountain, for instance: Just say, ‘Go jump in the lake’—no shuffling or shilly-shallying—and it’s as good as done. That’s why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you’ll get God’s everything. And when you assume the posture of prayer, remember that it’s not all asking. If you have anything against someone, forgive—only then will your heavenly Father be inclined to also wipe your slate clean of sins.”  (Mark 11:22-25, The Message).

In the TV show, Charles took a radical posture of prayer.  One that others laughed and mocked with their own lack of faith and pity.  This has made me consider my own posture of prayer.  In this life of faith, have I made prayer and my walk of faith after Jesus Christ a place of safety and a refuge for me?  Have I resigned myself to the four walls of my living room and chosen to keep Jesus to myself here?

I believe there is more to this life than what I am living today.  No, I’m not a teenager or a young single college student any longer with the world ahead of me.  I have a family.  I have bills to pay and responsibilities that must be taken care of.  Yet, I believe there is so much more than the safe place I now call home.  There is a mission, a purpose, and a plan for me – in the world I live.  I don’t want to be like the one who buried his talent we read about in Matthew 25:14-28.  I want the Father to be pleased with what I have done with the gifts he has given me to use for His purposes.