Archives For Distractions

The Ugly Side Of You

February 16, 2015 — Leave a comment

loneliness11

We give God our best because our best  isn’t restricted by a panic-stricken fear. We give God our best readily, often looking for a divine head nod of support. We regularly seek, not the depth of God, but only his thin layer of approval on our lives. However, giving God our ugly side rarely crosses our minds. Ugly hides in our hearts, safely tucked away-untamed and chained, yet deeply part of who we are. For freedom to reign in your life, for intimacy with the divine, ugly must be released upon the altar of God to be tamed by the Spirit of God. In short, you must allow God to love the ugly side of you.

The Quiet Canvas

October 22, 2013 — 2 Comments

Image Credit Madison Wright

fairyjar1The simple act of being quiet before the Lord is a discipline that should be visited often. Quietness is a blank canvas before the Lord. In quietness, God makes faint undertones of color building to a masterpiece for His glory. He is the artist; you are the canvas.

My daughter Madison is an artist. She has work hanging all over her room. Each work tells a story-a story that was in her heart at the time. I’ve had the honor of seeing most of her work come to life over the days; weeks and months she would work on them.

Sometimes, I didn’t have a clue what the painting was until almost the very end. I would have to wait, and then once she put the finally brush strokes to the canvas the work would come alive and completely reveal itself. At other times, I could tell from the beginning what the work was and so in that case, the joy would come in watching her layer the colors making them burst off the canvas.

Quietness is where God works. Let Him paint. Let Him layer. Let Him choose the colors. Your part is to choose quietness. He waits for you. He has a grand idea for using you.

Quietness.

Neither Have You

July 8, 2013 — Leave a comment

You_are_not_aloneImage Credit

I’ve never been skipped over by God and neither have you. On the other hand, there have been many times I’ve felt like God doesn’t even know where I’m at, I’m sure you have felt the same. Facts and feelings often seem to be in conflict with one another.

The unwavering facts of God’s love grace and mercy are abundant. However, at the same time, conflicts of emotions try to erode it all away.  Feelings fight against faith, but faithful is He who has you engraved on the palms of His hands.

When the walls of Jerusalem were torn down, God assured His people He was still in control. It is no different today in your life, or in my life. When the walls of safety, protection, assurance and hope are torn down, He is still master.

It is in those moments we are reminded that He alone is our answer, protector and provider. He is enough. He is our contentment. Like the Apostle Paul, we know what is like to be in need, and we know what it is like to have plenty.

We embrace the same secret of being content that he embraced many times in his life. That secret was simply,  “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” You are not skipped over, and feelings can never win. God’s word boldly declares, “…greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.”

I’ve never been skipped over by God and neither have you.

Power-of-a-WhisperImage Credit

Have you ever felt numb emotionally and spiritually? I’m sure you have. Maybe even today you find yourself in just such a place. You don’t have any feelings because they seem to be gone. The effect of sadness and depression over the many closed doors in your life have slowly cut off your faith blood supply, and you feel only numbness.

Numbness! That place in your faith life where you want to completely give up, but you know you can’t, and you know you won’t. Numbness is the part of walking by faith that personally haunts me the most. Maybe you know the feeling I’m referring to?

You are doing everything right and still all the doors in your life seem to close with a dull rudeness. You break out your faith check list to make sure you are walking pleasing to the Lord and sure enough everything for the most part seems to be right on track. Why then is every door closing, and yet for everyone else around you, the doors seem to not even have a close option?

Numbness will take you to the place of Elijah. Elijah had just witnessed an incredible miracle in his life. He witnessed God move on Mount Carmel in such a way that human involvement couldn’t be credited with any part of it. Yet, not long after the open door miracle, we see him whining that he’s all alone as a follower of God. He is numb! He is in the perfect storm.

Numbness led him to isolation but even in the isolation God was there. Numbness can’t push God away from you. He is commanded to get up and eat and to his surprise food and water have been supplied for him. Numbness can’t cut you off from your needs being supplied.

Then he was told, “Go, stand on the mountain at attention before GOD. GOD will pass by.” We are informed that a hurricane type wind passed through the mountains and shattered the rocks, but God wasn’t in the wind. Then after the wind there came an earthquake, but God wasn’t found in it either. Next, fire came, and God was not found in the fire. Finally, a whisper! God was in the whisper.

Numbness can’t be blown away. Numbness can’t be shattered away. Numbness can’t be shaken away. Numbness can’t be burnt away. However, numbness can be whispered away.

The whisper always comes. The whisper always comes. I’m waiting on my whisper. It will come!  How about you?

sheepfence

Caution! Looking over the fence can lead to cutting your chin. A better usage of your chin is to bow it in prayer, thanksgiving at the feet of Jesus. Bowing your chin in prayer and thanksgiving acknowledges Christ as Lord. Cutting your chin on the fence revels the desire to be the center of the universe and last I checked, neither you, nor I can run the universe. The call of the Christ follower has never been to look for what we already have. We have everything. We have been rescued. We have Him.

I guess looking over the fence started in the garden. God assured Adam and Eve that He had everything in control and hadn’t missed a detail. He even gave details about the tree to leave alone. Guess what? That tree soon became their “fence.” The enemy introduced a very seductive word. That word was introduced to get them to look over the fence. That word was, “surely.” The serpent spoke, “You will not surely die.” In other words,  the lie was, “You don’t have all that you need.”

Looking over the fence is a hard one to resist. We all want answers that fit with how we think it should be or how we think it ought to be. Therefore, we often think to ourselves, the answers I’m looking for are surely on the other side of the fence. After all, I can smell the barbecue goodness coming from the other side. I can hear the laughter of plenty. They never seem to hurt or want for anything on the other side of the fence.

Life always seems better elsewhere, but it’s not.  What is out of our touch, or inaccessible, often seems of more wealth than what is present and sanctioned in our life on God’s side of the fence. It seems to be in our human nature to desire what we can’t have, and at the same time despise what we have right under our feet.

I’ve often found I start looking over the fence when I stop ministry to God. Ministering to God is the safest place to be. When I totally surrender to the beauty of sitting at His feet, the fence has no power and the voices on the other side grow strangely dim, and my soul gives way to a song.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.” Psalm 23:5-6

EmptyhandsImage Credit

Is it just me or is there anyone else that worries about not worrying about what God may or may not do? When I’m under pressure, I tend to overlook for answers in my own strength.

At times,  it manifest in running every scenario that could happen, or should happen to the point I can’t even sleep well at night. Time and time again living my faith in this manner proves to be a big waste of…well…FAITH.

After all the time wasted searching in my own power, I always end up with nothing! Then it happens. God reminds me that I can’t do anything with NOTHING but He can do anything and everything with NOTHING.

Suddenly, deep in my heart I can feel a groaning of the Spirit of God praying for me the perfect will of God and then it happens; peace consumes me. Sometimes, when you stop looking, and you stop trying to figure it all out, God moves for His glory in your life.

The searcher of hearts is always looking and listening for the groaning of the Spirit inside our hearts. God is always having conversations and communion in our hearts. When there are no more words to pray, the Spirit of God intercedes with groanings at the intersection of ruin and misery within the Christ Follower.

You must share in God’s sufferings to share in His glory. However, suffering when complete gives way to a beautiful witness of His glory and that is enough. God uses suffering, emptiness and troubled times of unanswered prayers to build His character in us, conforming us to Christ, and prepare us for final glory when heaven and earth become one.

You might not get what you thought you needed, but you will get what brings Him the most glory. Sometimes it takes getting nothing to get everything.

Romans 8:26-30 (NKJV)
26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for uswith groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

storm

Mark 4:35-41 (NIV)

35 That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” 36 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. 37 A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” 39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.

Of course, He cares. But even better than that, He knows!

Jesus knew the storm was  coming when He commanded the disciples to cross over to the other side. He even knew the storm was upon them during His nap.

It’s kind of incredible when you think about it.

You know you’re in a storm when it’s all you can think about. It’s on your mind so heavy you toss and turn on your bed at night.

However, I want you to know that Jesus can be calmly trusted in the middle of trouble.

He knew they were destined for the other side, and He knows how to write your story also.

He knew they would arrive, and He knew they would arrive different men than when they launched out from the other side.

The kind of differences only a storm can bring.

It is not that Jesus is not around; He is there all the time.

You may not understand His timing or the way He chooses to answer but please understand Jesus is sovereign over all forces and that’s enough.

Jesus can calm the inward and outward storms of your life. He will get you to the other side.

Psalm 89:8-9 (NIV) 8 O Lord God Almighty, who is like you? You are mighty, O Lord, and your faithfulness surrounds you. 9 You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them.

second-thoughts

The primary key to operating an automobile is being in control of the vehicle and not vice versa. Can you imagine letting go of the wheel and letting the car take you where it wants to go? If the car is aligned correctly, you might make it a few hundred feet before running off the road and crashing. However,  the crash would surely happen unless you regained control by taking hold of the wheel again.

Thoughts have the same potential. You can control them and have a great adventure of faith or you can let go of the “Wheel,” and let them take you where they want to go. You might cruise unharmed for a few hundred feet, but sooner of later you are going to crash unless you regain control of your thoughts for God’s purpose.

Your thoughts can be a temple of worship for God, or your thoughts can be an idol of destruction that leads you astray and off course. The choice is your choice to make. Each of us needs to take control of our thoughts, giving them over to God along with everything else in our lives.

We are commanded in scripture to bring every thought into obedience to Christ Jesus. (2 Cor 5:10) Every thought means every thought. We are called to bring the good, bad and the ugly thoughts to the feet of Jesus and filter them there.

Believe it or not, you have exceptional control over what you do with your thoughts. Thoughts coming into your mind are often fast and furious, but they are never non-controllable. When a thought comes to you, a choice has to be made and can be made.

I challenge you today. Take inventory of your thought life today. It will tell you much about yourself. Ask God to make you more awake to what’s on your mind. Ask God to help move you in Godly directions with your thought life.  I promise you that if you fill your mind with good thoughts, the bad will soon dilute and lose power of influence in your life.

Philippians 4:8 (NKJV) 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

pour

Trusting God to show up can be a bit of an enigma. You need God to meet a need in your life or ministry, so you pray He shows up, and yet on the other hand God is everywhere, so it’s impossible for Him to be absent. In other words, praying He shows up is almost redundant, yet we ask anyway because the Bible encourages us to ask. The Lord’s Prayer being just one example of many in scripture.

I think a better way to look at asking God to show up is to ask God to give us eyes to see where He is at work in the situation and pursue it. Pursuing God is the more proactive form of asking Him for help. When you know God is always present and at work, then it’s just a matter of pursuing. Asking is just the opening of your heart to see with your eyes of faith where He is already active.

Even when the Bible speaks of God at rest, it’s better stated that God is in control. When God is at rest in the Bible that doesn’t mean He is kicked back with His feet up doing nothing. That’s more of our definition of rest then God’s definition of rest. Rest for God is control. He is sovereign and in control, and there is nothing passive about either.

God’s invitation to ask of Him is a real command, but it must never be forgotten that it is for our benefit and not His.  Prayer is mostly about bringing ourselves into alignment with God’s heart.

I’m not sure what you need God to show up for right now, but there is one thing that I am sure of, and it’s this- Grace is accessible to you right now, and so there’s no reason to struggle and fight for an answer. He is the answer for right now because He is the ‘right now’ God working at all times. Trusting God to show up can be a bit of an enigma, but that is half the joy of pursuing Him.

The power of God’s grace is working in your life. And whatever amount you need, is being poured into your cup right now.  So, belly up to the grace of God and say, “Pour me another.”

carrying-sheep

1 Samuel 16:11
11 And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.”And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.”

While David was caring for sheep, God was caring for him. God didn’t overlook David, and neither does God overlook you.

Experiencing the pain of being overlooked touches each of us from time to time and can be extremely difficult to carry. Being overlooked transcends age, gender, culture, rich and poor. The loneliest place to serve God is in the land of the overlooked.

I’ve often thought about David and what it must have been like to be around 15 years of age watching sheep day in and day out. I find myself asking questions of wonder. Did David ever feel loneliness living in the shadow of his older brothers? Did David drift away in his thinking while watching the sheep, thinking to himself, “Will I always be overlooked and stuck out here in the field smelling like sheep?” When David played games with his older brothers and the neighborhood kids, was he picked last? If Dave was anything like you and me, then the answer to those questions are an unqualified, “Yes.”

I remind you again; while David was caring for sheep, God was caring for him. God didn’t overlook David, and neither does God overlook you.

Everyone wants to feel significant, that their life matters, that they have a place in this world. However, you must never forget that God looks not to you in order to give you significance; He looks toward you in order that your life will make great significance of Him to a lost and dying world.

Allow me to make a few statements of clarification at this point before we continue on. God never overlooks you, but God doesn’t look your way in order to make much of you; God looks your way in order to make much of Him. In other words, life is not about you and me ultimately.

Life is about God’s glory. When you come to realize that one simple point, then and only then can you truly be free to live as God has purposed. Otherwise you are trapped serving yourself first and God second.

I opened this devotion with the scripture of David being called from the field, where he stood before God and his brothers to receive the anointing as the future king. The older brothers were all passed over for this particular purpose. It was David God wanted to be king and not any one of them. That’s not to say they were overlooked because God never overlooks any of His children. It’s simply to say that God’s plan for their lives had a very different direction.

In 1 Samuel 16:12-13 we read, “12 So he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, with bright eyes, and good-looking. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him; for this is the one!” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel arose and went to Ramah.

David went from being overlooked by the world around him to learn in a moment that God had not overlooked him at all. While David was caring for sheep, God was caring for him. God didn’t overlook David, and neither does God overlook you.

As I close this devotion, I leave you with one last meditation. David received his call and found out he wasn’t overlooked; however he returned to taking care of the sheep until God directed him otherwise. Never forget, it was about 15 years between David’s anointing as king until he took the throne.

While David was caring for sheep, God was caring for him. God didn’t overlook David, and neither does God overlook you.