Friday, June 29, 2012

Take a Deeper Breath

Job 33:4 (NLT) For the Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.

A death on a cross was meant to be painful, no... excruciating, slow agony. Straining to push up against a small block, the feet were positioned and secured with a spike, one on top of the other. Rising from the core, back and shoulders lifting  up the body against the weight of one's self, only a few sustaining breaths entered, a gasp allowed for a few more minutes of pain and   to contemplate rising again to inhale. Suffocation ended the struggle. In  Christ's death, the groaning pains of mankind's choices away from God, hung with Him, yet many of us still feel strangled. 

Christ endured this for every man, woman and child that God ever allowed to walk this Earth because of His great love for you and me. He took our punishment for us, and then in His Deity, rose up for Eternity, conquering all that excruciates and agonizes us; that keeps us apart from the Father.  

Suffering exists in the "letting go."  Stretching up, we continue to hold on and take those breathes of self-control.  Puffed-up, prideful inhales, exhausting exhales of defeat. The final heave to take that last breath, to try and claim our own life,  ends with the realization that we cannot deliver enough of our own good intentions into our lungs for salvation. 

Only one cross exists where the burdens of each and every heart is pierced by the nails of love and covered by the blood of Grace.  Only until we lower our head, humble ourselves and fall to our knees, surrendering our own breath of self to the Cross; then His victory comes into our life. 

There, on that lonely cross of hope, eternal life is given, eternity that begins in our life while still here in the flesh. Our own wheezing, gasping for purpose, now opens us up for restful joy. 

 Stop fighting, stop running only to pant furiously for your breath.  When Christ's breath of his Spirit fills your life in every cell, His Transformation brings you to a new Respiration, a Resuscitation for your soul!  

Father God, you breathed into Adam the breath of fellowship with a Holy God. Our own free will takes us out of the garden and into a vacuum empty of Your Spirit, a void only You can refill.  But You made a way, You came to our rescue!  The Mighty Redeemer, your Son, takes my burdens, empowers me to keep moving way past the place where my own breath eludes.  Praise your Holy Name.   Amen.  

Friday, June 22, 2012

Weeding Out the Garden

Galatians 6:1-3 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.  Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.

My neighbor came over, wanted me to come look at a plant in her yard.

She wanted to know what it was.  

Growing about a foot tall, it now sprouted little berries and a petite little flower.  


"Is it some kind of berry?" she asked. 

"No, I smiled. Berries have thorns and fuzzy stems with  thicker, pulpier leaves, more of  a vine.  I think this, well, I'm pretty sure, this is a WEED."

(Her hubby laughing in the background, "I told you so!")


Have you ever had that experience?  Something that you thought was so cool, looked so good, felt wonderful, you thought was sent from Heaven, only to find out it is a lie!  Oh, how the devil  loves this little trick.  Have you heard the expression, "growing like a weed?"

Yep, those things in our lives we over water, give too much attention to, have compulsive behaviors with, (we all our guilty), those things we set apart from God...

Someone comes along, points out the invasive behavior, the ugly among the beautiful.

"Yank it out! they say. Here, I'll help you".   

"Nah, I'll get to it later."

"Are you sure? You know it can soon take over and overwhelm the flowers in your garden, if you don't handle it now." 

Close friends, brothers and sisters in the Lord, recognize things in our lives when we can't or just don't want to believe it.  In LOVE, because we pray for one another, God allows us grace (because we've grown through His grace).  Grace to tend to the needs and sometimes the things not needed,  growing out of control. 

There is this great word in fellowship: ACCOUNTABILITY.  

Sometimes, it may take a few praying friends to gather a weed whacker of His WORD and a shovel of SERVICE  and spend quality time helping a friend till their soil for some fresh seeds of Godly perspective.  

Be careful. Don't call out someone's ugly weeds, when you've got your own disguised among your seemingly healthy planters, green lawn, and flower pots.  

I like that she asked.  She questioned. I did my best to speak TRUTH.  

That's all that the Lord requires. His Spirit works through my experience of all the weeding done in my life. And I'm quiet confidant because I am still mortal, those weeds will pop up again.  

Lord, I am forever grateful for the graceful gardeners that continue to nurture the seeds of promise in my life.  Continue to help me be a graceful nurturer to those needing to hear Your truth around me. Amen.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Hand Stance

Ephesians 2:8-9

New International Version (NIV)
 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Stark white hair, still thick enough to poof up, framed his aged, tan face. His long fingers reached into the mail box pulling out his morning newspaper. He turned back towards the stately, well-built home, each bush clipped to perfection, the walkway cutting through the  manicured lawn.  His white long-sleeved dress shirt was neatly tucked into his tan slacks, belted at the waist. Up since 4 a.m., waiting for the news to arrive, his morning routine found him sitting at the table,  reading the front page, checking the stock report, and turning to the sports section.

Clasping the paper in one hand, both arms reached and met around his back, continuing his leisurely stroll as if waiting to notice something new in his yard, inspecting his lawn for any emerging trouble.  He took his time and I watched him. 

His stance is what  caught my attention, gave me déjà vu.


Across the street from my childhood home, Mr. and Mrs. Ellinger lived.  I have not thought of them in years.  That déjà vu feeling?   Mr. Ellinger from my front porch, hands grasped behind him, wisdom of the ages etched into his creases, middle of the street pillar of our block; it all came back.  It was like seeing him again. 

He looked like Mr. Ellinger, but especially the stance.  That’s what did it; jogged my memory.

 The stance, it’s one of surrender, relaxed and trusting.  It's like he knows stuff you want to know.  Hands at rest, yet clutching to each other. 
My dirty, blistered and calloused hands are behind me now Lord. I am walking, seeing all you have done.  I’ve used these hands for both good and sometimes, not so good.  I’ve expressed my anger and I’ve pounded a fist.   I’ve counted the toes of a newborn and written a eulogy.  I’ve dug up weeds and planted roses. Waving, hugging, saluting, calling, writing, chopping, sewing, drawing…these hands show their use. 

Lord, Grasping your promise, I place my hands behind me and surrender my doing.  Though you call us to good works, I know it is Your hands, clasped to the cross that did the work for me.  My hands cannot save. Thank you Lord for the gift of working hands. Continue to allow me to use them in ministry.   Palms up, I pray surrendered to your will in Holy worship.  Amen. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Image Makers

 Genesis 1:27...In the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

The Yearbook debuts today and the seniors possess first dibs.  Eating lunch with my usual English Department bunch, one teacher seemed particularly perturbed about some of the content.
“The kids are asking me about this quote under my staff picture.  It is some very random quote from Shakespeare that makes no sense at all and then on top of that, they have me calling him ‘Billy the Bard!’  I would never do that. Its one thing if this were in a throw away newspaper, but this is in the yearbook—in print forever! I am so mad!”

Another colleague, with some empathy states, “Well at least you got a whole paragraph.  They only had me reciting one word!”

Two teachers represented in a yearbook; one with a wrongly attached quote of no known significance and the other, an understatement of her passions. 

What is your identity, your captioned tagline?  If you were misquoted, would you recognize it? If you were seen as less enthusiastic about something you really had a passion for, would it bother you?

Life is filled with many wishy-washy people, half truths, misquotes and mediocrity, compromise and false assumptions. Take a stand, be empowered by your passion, rise above the crowd, and label yourself with truth; know what you believe.

Lord, as I continue to walk this road of sanctification, may I truly be seen as one not of this world, but set apart, as your representative, pictured in your Book of Life and captioned as a True Believer, a scholar of Truth.  Amen.


Note: Originally titled: "Identity Theft," this is an archived devotion, one I wrote last year before creating this   site. This year, the yearbook missed a whole group of us, my colleagues, instructional aides. Both individually and in teamwork, we strive for a common goal, the success of our students and I know we are appreciated. The yearbook is a huge undertaking and bloopers are bound to happen. I am at peace to know that God doesn't need a yearbook to remember my commitment. 

 If I handed Jesus my yearbook to write in, what would He say to me? 

--YOLO...(You Only Live Once).

..don't think so.  

How 'bout this one kids:

 DORO-EL. (Died Once, Resurrected Once, Eternal Life). 
You are really cool,
 I know, I made you.  Peace I give, I Love You, JC. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Cure for Summertime Blues

Psalm 61: 1a Hear my cry, O God;

Down, sad, forlorn, lonely, anxious, can’t quite put my finger on it, but my emotions seem to be front and center this week. Routines are ending, summer is dawning, good-byes and hugs, packing up, sending out…whatever.

Anxiety and worry, sometimes just thinking TOO much is how that sneaky ol’ devil gets us off track.  Are you sure there are only four chambers in my heart?  It feels so heavy.  

Walking helps. Got to get back the everyday steps.
Sharpen my good sketch pencil and start that picture I’ve thought about for weeks.

Call all my friends.

But today, right now, I am opening my Bible.  It’s June 1st,  6-1. OK, Psalm 61 it is. 

Oh…these verses…

Lord, You minister to me and fill my heart with tender care. 
These verses…the ones my son and I memorized together in his anxious moments. The verses we whispered to each other on phone calls from hospital beds and late night freeway rides.

Switchfoot is singing in my head…”I’ve got my Vice-Verses.” 

Thank you Lord for your sweet conversation with me; eyes wide open in Your Word. I call on you for inspiration and You fill me with Your mercy and truth. Summer Soul-tice, I’m ready and encouraged. Amen 

Psalm 61

New King James Version (NKJV)

Assurance of God’s Eternal Protection

To the Chief Musician. On a stringed instrument. A Psalm of David.

61 Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.
I will abide in Your tabernacle forever;
I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah
For You, O God, have heard my vows;
You have given me the heritage of those who fear Your name.
You will prolong the king’s life,
His years as many generations.
He shall abide before God forever.
Oh, prepare mercy and truth, which may preserve him!
So I will sing praise to Your name forever,
That I may daily perform my vows.