Together As One

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     This morning I watched as my arbor became filled with fluttering activity. All different species of birds together – flying in and out taking a waiting perch for their turn to be filled with the juicy ripe grapes that now dangle ready for consumption.

     When we have forgotten to fill their bird feeders they will group together and come asking for help – in their lack; but what a joy to watch it when there is an abundance. You can hear the chatter and singing, you can feel the anticipation and joy as they hop from one place to another waiting – anticipating – sharing.

     In lack and abundance they group together not caring about size or difference but together united on a focus for the good of them all.

Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

     In the midst of the chaos, anger and hate currently harbored in our nation we have seen a momentary glimpse of what I witnessed with the birds this morning. A compassionate flood that has surfaced in the heart of people as images of great pain and loss have triggered a unity that only a few days ago was devoid. Now the united focus does not care about difference but to help those hurting and in lack. Together they are pouring out help – sharing from their abundance and even from their lack.

     Isn’t this the heart of Christ? To care for the hurting and broken? To pour out love and compassion on the most vulnerable?

     Stepping up, setting “our” lives on hold, giving from our abundance and our lack, helping in any way possible is what it is to be a loving human being. But we, as believers in Christ have a bigger assignment – it’s not just for a disaster – it is a lifestyle! A lifestyle of sharing our abundance into the lives that surround us that walk daily in lack.

     Unfortunately – just as the birds will revert back to their natural thinking – most people will quickly become cold to the needs and revert back to living their “own” lives with no thought to those still hurting and continually living in lack.

     But for now my heart smiles as I watch the birds united and full of joy sharing with one another – just as Our Heavenly Father must be doing now too. But also, with a renewed outlook on what my lifestyle needs to shift to – one of daily walking in a lifestyle of sharing – hopping from place to place waiting, anticipating and sharing as HE directs.

Isaiah 58:10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.

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How is Your Armor?

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Digging in a field for water several men unearthed a burial ground filled with treasures of ancient history. Artifacts dating deep into history were found – giving us a glimpse of the past as well as an interesting spiritual abstract.

Found among the Terra-cotta statues of warriors, and horses were found empty helmets and armor. Intricately designed yet left empty – these pieces were made from limestone, each with hundreds of carved pieces mounted together – never worn, but placed as a remembrance to the fallen. If these had been worn they would not have held up to battle for they would have shattered on impact. The standard helmet and armor where designed from leather – each piece cut and lacquered being layered and mounted together to cover and withstand the weapons of the time.

The inference is that those fallen were not adequately prepared for the battle.

We too must prepared for battle – How does that happen?

We prepare our helmets – making choices – first to believe in Christ’s blood and it’s redemptive power, then to study the word and to live a lifestyle of love and prayer – spending time diligently carving those pieces of leather – covering them with lacquer (the blood of Christ) to strengthen them and then layering and mounting them together. We also must allow the carving, lacquering and mounting of life’s journey – the pieces of our armor – to be fashioned by the Spirit of God, by His presence in our lives, and our faith to fight forward through the hardest darkest places that are often encountered as life’s journey marches forward.

Often life does not look or feel fair as life throws it’s twists and curves at us, but each of those twists and curves – if allowed – will become a piece of armor being layered and mounted – strengthening our faith.

My desire is to be found wearing a strong intact helmet and armor that has been designed by my Father’s hand, covered with the blood of Christ and strengthened by a walk of faith NOT one of limestone, that is empty, or shattered.

Fight forward my friend! Chose today how you want to march into battle.

Ephesians 6:10-11 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. (ESV)

When You’re Broken Beyond Repair

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     Football practice wouldn’t be the same today. With the snap of his arm bones, my grandsons’ hope for a winning season was broken before it began. Silence and chaos broke out all at once; covering the field quickly as realization of the accident spread. In the midst of the shouting and ambulance ride comes a calming voice from a trusted friend, “It’ll be alright, it’s a clean break – it will heal.” Surgery waits, not once but twice to repair this double bone compound fracture but in the hands of a skilled orthopedic surgeon it will heal, he will play again – life and his arm will be “good as new”.

     There are times in your life when you feel that you have been broken beyond repair. The tragic loss of a loved one looms over your heart. The betrayal of a trusted friend crushes your spirit. The angry vicious words spoken against you grip your mind. But through the pain there is a calming voice that can be heard – He is speaking in the midst of that pain – “It’ll be alright – you will heal – life will be good again.”

     Your brokenness can heal – It’s not quick, it’s not painless, it’s not easy – but the skilled hand of a surgeon can repair it. And you have a skilled surgeon waiting for you – one who knows intimately the pain and hurt you are walking through. Jesus is waiting; His surgery heals, restores and gives new life. He is there wiping every tear, whispering His love back into your broken heart, pouring restored trust into your broken spirit, eradicating lies from your mind – whispering “Life will be good again.”

     When you feel you have been broken beyond repair – remember – in the hands of a skilled surgeon you will heal, you will play again and life will be good. Trust your brokenness into the hands of your surgeon – He is waiting for you.

Psalm 34:18 The Lord is near to the broken-hearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (ESV)

Psalm 147:3 He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.(ESV)

What Is Your Faith In?

More faith is required on that freeway then in believing in His existence, His love and His plan for our individual lives.

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The 4 lanes of speeding vehicles seem to flow uninterrupted in one direction, each filled with people who have no thought as to the faith required to be there.

     Every time I visit Seattle I am amazed at the amount of faith required just to get there. Every day thousands of individuals place themselves into a “tin can” and travel at 60mph on a freeway that uses little white painted lines to separate them – keeping them in line. Really? Think about that – what have they placed faith in? Faith in those little white lines, those other “tin cans” filled with distracted, fallible people; but yet they stand in hope that they will change lanes, travel forward and reach their planned destination with no problems.

     Many of those same individuals openly say that they have no faith in God as they speed down the freeway. However, more faith is required on that freeway then in believing in His existence, His love and His plan for our individual lives.

     With little thought we walk throughout our day – walking in faith. Just to mention a few – we turn on the shower expecting water, we put in the key and expect the car to start, or we lock our doors expecting to keep everything safe. On a larger scale – we place our faith in our jobs to provide, our health to stay strong, our family and friends to always be there. So why do we question faith in God?

     If that is you – simply look around – the very fabric of nature shouts of faith in a creator who designed her. From the galaxies in the heavens to the cells within your body; everything shows that intricate precise planned design.

     Simple faith is what drives you to believe you can survive on the freeway – it’s that same simple faith that says YES there is a God – Yes He loves you and Yes He has a specific planned design for your life. So my question to you is a simple one – What is your faith in?

     A simple response is all it takes to bring you to a new beginning where His planned purpose will begin to be seen – a new place where you will find the certainty within, knowing that Christ paid a price on the cross just for you and that you have an eternal place prepared for you.

     Next time you merge onto the freeway consider what your faith is in.

Hebrews 11:1 What is faith? It is the confident assurance that something we want is going to happen. It is the certainty that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead.(LTB)

 

 

Beauty in the Fire-Pit

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Our warm summer sun continues to march forward toward fall as its rays have allowed sunflowers to flourish in my yard this year, like no year previously. Its rays have also limited our ability to burn our fire-pit – it sits unused, filled with scraps of yard wood, weeds etc. To my great surprise my fire-pit now boasts of a single beauty – yep – a sunflower. Right there in the midst of all the debris – right there where no water has been provided – right there where only rock supports its roots – there erupts a single beauty, her head held high – a single sunflower.

 As I contemplated this flowers unusual bedding choice I began to see a spiritual abstract. Beauty can come out of the midst of chaos, out of the midst of barren dryness, out of the difficult places we live in. From the depths of our pain and loss beauty can emerge.

     How does that happen in our lives?

It comes from the exceptional quality of seed that the cross of Jesus provides us, as well as a choice of our heart. Being willing to allow the Spirit of God to heal, strengthen and mature the seed of faith that’s been dropped into our mess is a decision. If we look to Him right there in the midst of the chaos, right there where all is barren and dry, right there where all is hard and difficult – suddenly there will erupt a single beauty, her head held high. A victorious example of who He has created you to be will proudly stand in the middle of your fire-pit.

Your God is faithful to bring beauty out of the most unexpected difficult situations in your life. He has lovingly offered you the seed of His son, it’s been placed within your heart – you only need chose to receive it, believe it and wait. Trust Him to complete the work – His time is perfect – His time produces the beauty hidden in that dark barren place.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6 (ESV)

Where is Your Trust?

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     Fear has become a constant whispering companion as destructive acceleration surrounds us…global warming, earthquakes, famine, increased hate and violence as well as the rumors of a possible approach of nuclear war. It is so easy to “buy in” to that fear and panic, that “be prepared” mentality that is erupting all around us. Here – in the midst of this chaotic surge – is our place to walk in a different spirit.

     It is now that the LOVE of Christ is needed to dispel that fear. It is now that FAITH in Christ can shine in the darkness – teaching and building hope in the confused. It is now that the HOPE in Christ within us must stand firm, declare and encourage in the midst of what is seen.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.              Psalm 91: 1-6 (ESV)

     Let these words infuse in you today the strength to stand firm. Find rest under His wings – find peace in His refuge as you trust in Him. Remember in HOPE the goodness of your God, remember in FAITH you are called to proclaim that goodness, and remember in LOVE all that Christ did for you and those around you.

     Fear not what you see with your eyes and hear with your ears – look only with your Spirit to the promises of His faithfulness. Breathe easy today as you walk in peace in the midst of this storm, finding refuge in Christ – for there is where your trust dwells.