Open my eyes…

“Open my eyes that I might see wonderful things in your law.” Psalm 119:18, (NIV).

When I walk into my garage from the outside and the lights are out I am blinded by the darkness as I walk in.  If I stand there for several minutes in the dark my eyes will adjust to the darkness so I can begin to see my way to the door into the house.  In life, I don’t want to live so that I am accustomed to the darkness around me.  I want to be a light in the world I live in.

The Bible tells us, “Without a vision people perish…”  (Proverbs 29:18, KJV).   I’ve desired nothing less than to see the Lord in my daily life.  During times of struggle, it can be hard to see him.  When I take my eyes off of Him, I stand there in my circumstance and get used to the darkness that surrounds me.  Yet, my desire is to continue to seek Him in those dark times.  A famous poetic quartet once stated, “In the dark you need a light do you want to make it right… So, freely surrender!” (Freely Surrender, Stryper).

The Psalmist knows he can’t see without the help of the Lord and he looks to God’s law for his light.  He realizes without his eyes open he will not see the wonder of God’s love found in His law.  “Open my eyes that I might see wonderful things in your law.” Margaret Feinberg writes, “God invites us to look up, open our eyes to the wonder all around us, and seize every opportunity to encounter him.”  (Wonderstruck).  There is not a better place to look for God than in the Bible.  Take the time to read it and you just may be surprised how He speak with you.

Make this your pray today.  Father, open my eyes that I might see wonderful things in your law. In the wonderful name of Jesus, Amen.

Overwhelmed with the presence of God

It has been awhile since I have posted here.  I realize that it is a technical mistake to not continually post – especially if one wants to keep those following as a follower.  I appreciate those who have messaged me or spoke with me in some way that I needed to write.  That’s always so encouraging… thank you!

So, why have I not been writing? It began at the start of Lent.  After reading, Wonderstruck, about Margaret Feinberg‘s experience around Lent, I decided that this year I would take those days leading up to Easter to focus.  And focus is what I did! I sat down to write several times but each time I felt like my focus was being divided.

Matthew 6:33 was the basis for my focus.  I began praying around these words of Jesus, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.”  I researched the Bible and prayed with the focus of God’s Kingdom and His righteousness.  As I began praying, I realized how self-centered my prayer life had become.  My praying over the years had become about the later part of Matthew 6:33, “…and all these things will be given to you as well.”  I realized I had been seeking “things” rather than seeking God.  My relationship had become about the physical over the spiritual-love-life that God so desires to have with His people.

“If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied withgetting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. (Matthew 6:30-33, The Message).

At the beginning of Lent, there was a lot of things that came up against me and my family.  I was beginning to wonder if what I had began to do was the right thing or not.  I pressed on!  With each obstacle, I spoke to God and prayed with His Kingdom and His righteousness as my focus.  I did not ever pray about the specific issues that came up.  I trusted the words of Jesus to seek first His Kingdom.

I write in a journal most days.  That journal at times becomes a list of stuff I am wanting God to bless me with.  I begin praying about those things and neglect intimately seeking God.  Think with me for a moment about your best friend.  Do you have them in mind? OK, now imagine every time you see them instead of talking with them you ask them for something.  Not ever once inquiring about their life or thinking about their needs, etc.  All you want out of them is something they can give you.  How long do you think you are going to have that relationship if it is only based on you asking them of something?  It’s not going to be much of a relationship is it?

If all we have are lists of things we are praying about – where is the relationship with God? 

During Lent, I came to realize my past “comfort” was found in praying over my problems rather than finding real comfort from the Holy Spirit.  Because the Holy Spirit is at work around us, all of the time, God knows what we need.  We don’t have to “worry” our prayers before God over those things.  He truly desires for us to live in freedom rather than fear.  I found freedom this year in knowing God.  I am so thankful for the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.  I am thankful for this time of Lent.  I am thankful for a renewed passion for love I have for God.  I am thankful for all the Holy Spirit has done in the past couple of months.  I am amazed and so blessed.  I can honestly say with great passion and grace I have been Wonderstruck by God.

I will pursue You

Give my lifeToday is Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of Lent.  It is a time that many Christians take to prepare themselves leading up to the celebration of Easter.  I have heard of those who are giving up things like chocolate, Facebook, Coke, or some other daily habit during this time.

Lent is not something my church tradition has observed.  But I have grown increasingly curious to look at it more the past couple of years.  After reading Margaret Feinberg‘s book, Wonderstruck, I have decided to take the next 40 days as a time to focus my prayer life.

Margaret writes about how she fell in love with this time of Lent.  She talks about God leading her to give up prayer… at least prayer in the form that she had grown accustomed – lengthy prayers.  God had instructed her to shorten her prayers to three words.  Imagine that!  Condensing every prayer down to three words.  I don’t know if my brain has the vocabulary or creativity to accomplish that kind of prayer.

During Lent, I’m not going to cut my prayers down to three words but I am going to cut out praying for my personal needs over the next 40 days.  Jesus says in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.” (New Century Version).  I’ve been noticing how much my praying is focused on me… my needs… my wants… I have made prayer about me and not about Jesus.Your presence

Jesus says if we will seek God’s kingdom first – what He wants – THEN our other needs will be met.  It seems like I have had my prayer life backward.  Praying for my needs and not necessarily seeking first God’s kingdom.  Over the next 40 days I want to grow closer to God and I want to get to know Him on a deeper level in the power of His Holy Spirit through prayer.

Oswald Chambers states,

The goal of my spiritual life is such close identification with Jesus Christ that I will always hear God and know that God always hears me (see John 11:41). If I am united with Jesus Christ, I hear God all the time through the devotion of hearing. A flower, a tree, or a servant of God may convey God’s message to me. What hinders me from hearing is my attention to other things. It is not that I don’t want to hear God, but I am not devoted in the right areas of my life. I am devoted to things and even to service and my own convictions. (My Utmost for His Highest, February 13).

Over the next 40 days I want my life to be marked by being devoted to the right things.  To the pursuit of walking in His presence.  How are you going to spend these days leading up to the celebration of Easter?

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.

The Clouds…

I stepped outside last night and the feel of the cool air was refreshing.  I gazed up into the sky to look at the stars.  It’s a beautiful sight just to stare at what God has created.  Throughout time men and women have looked up and seen the same site I looked upon last night.  As I could feel the breeze coming in from the west I could also see the clouds moving in to obstruct the beautiful view.

The winds of change can bring so much that impact our lives.  Some times these winds bring news of great hope, love, joy, and happiness.  Other times these winds bring clouds of  hurt, disappointment, and despair.

We all experience these winds at some time in our lives. We have experienced them with our friends and loved ones:  The bad news of cancer, the unexpected death of a friend, the loss of a job, or the horrible end of a marriage – all bring it…

If we aren’t alert to the troubles that these clouds bring, we will fall into a trap that will blow us off of the path God has intended for our lives.  I’m sure if we are both honest we have all been there at some point in time within our faith walk.  Margaret Feinberg writes about her life where the “marvel of life” was misplaced.

Faith invites us into an enchanting journey—one marked by mysteries of divine beauty, holy courage, irrepressible hope, unending love. But in my life, any sense of the splendor of God had faded. I knew I needed a fresh encounter with God to awaken me from my sleep, to dis- turb me from my slumber.

And so I prayed for wonder.

Palms extended, wide-eyed with expectation, I waited for an answer. And God did not disappoint. For me, a prayer for wonder asks the Lord to expand my capacity to see and savor the divine gifts all around. (Margaret Feinberg, Wonderstruck, 7).

When we look through the lens of the Holy Spirit we can see the good in all things. Psalm 34:8 says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” (NIV).

You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!” That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. (Psalm 91:1-2, The Message).

Seeking doesn’t always bring answers but rather more questions.  These are lyrics by The Choir, in TheLoudestSoundEverHeard_covertheir song, The Forest, from their newest album, The Loudest Sound Ever Heard.

More is hidden than revealed. Sometimes the path to understanding is concealed. It hurts to be alive, your pain is real. Go on laugh until you cry, it’s good to feel

The sun will shine. The sun will shine on you. The sun will shine. The sun will shine on you.

I believe the sun will shine on you and me, my friend. I have learned to trust the turning of the seasons. Even now the sun is breaking through the clouds again. But I still don’t know the causes or the reasons

So, in the wake of unanswered questions how do you deal with change that comes throughout the seasons in your life?  I have found praying and reading the Bible are two of the best ways to deal with that which I can’t understand on my own.  Just as those stars have been there throughout time – God is always here with us.  He is not out there somewhere but right here among us.  If the clouds have obstructed your view of God – pray! Pray that He will reveal his marvelous love… may you be filled with the wonder, excitement, and joy of his love.

The revelation of God is whole
and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear
and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right,
showing the way to joy.
The directions of God are plain
and easy on the eyes. (Psalm 19:7-8, The Message).

The wonders of God are all around

My friend, Margaret Feinberg, has a new book and 7-session DVD Bible study called Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God,which releases Christmas Day. This is a personal invitation for you to toss back the covers, climb out of bed, and drink in the fullness of life. This book will turn your prayer life upside down, stir your desire to live more abundantly, and take your relationships with others to the next level.Blog Post Wonderstruck Cover Art Image

To learn more, watch the Wonderstruck Video.

Margaret recently posted a great warning on her site that those who have read Wonderstruck[www.margaretfeinberg.com/wonderstruck]have experienced the following symptoms:

-An inability to stop smiling

-An uncontainable desire to pray

-A loss of interest in judging others

-A quiet, unshakable confidence in God

-A renewed ability to see the wonders of God all around

And from what I’ve seen, they’re all true! I wanted to share some thoughts that stuck out to me as I read a sneak peek of Wonderstruck:

Margaret’s ability to draw my attention to the most simple and basic thoughts concerning God and His pursuit of a relationship with me are beautiful.  Her introduction has drawn me to a place to pray – to ask God for wonder.  I am confident you will also have a similar experience as you read Wonderstruck.  I pray I never lose my sense of wonder in my pursuit to know Him more.  That’s why as I embark on this journey through Margaret Feinberg’s, “Wonderstruck,” I’m joining her and praying for wonder.  I hope you will too. 

Many of us say we want to experience God, but we don’t look for his majesty. We travel life’s paths with our heads down, focused on the next step with our careers or families or retire- ment plans. But we don’t really expect God to show up with divine wonder.

God invites us to look up, open our eyes to the wonder all around us, and seize every opportunity to encounter him. This isn’t a passive expectation but an active one, the kind prompting us to elbow our way to Jesus, knowing he longs to meet us with a hearty embrace and sometimes even twirl us through the air. (26-27).

Follow Margaret’s snarky, funny, and inspirational posts on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog. You can learn more about this great book by visiting www.margaretfeinberg.com/wonderstruck where she’s offering some crazy promos right now with up to $300 of free stuff. I’ve seen the book for as low as $7.95 ($14.99 retail) on Barnes & Noble for all you savvy shoppers.