Thursday, September 30, 2010
Currently, I am missing the presence of my amazing husband, Joe. He is involved in a VOM (Voice of the Martyrs) Colombian Pastors Conference this week. We've had limited communication since he arrived in Colombia. But, you can be certain, we have used each brief, fragile connection as an opportunity to communicate our love for each other and to restate our commitment to pray for one another. Although he is gone, he is very present with me. My heart is continually aware of the "forever-promise" we've made to each other.
It reminds me of the "forever-promise" Jesus made in Matthew 28:20, "And remember, I am with you always, day by day, until the Close of the Age." (Weymouth New Testament) Jesus made a "forever-promise." Even though He is gone, He is very present "to the very end of the age!"
So, how is Joe very present with me although he is thousands of miles away? How is Jesus very present with me although He's been gone for over two thousands years? Each are "forever-present" as I stay aware and available. I stay aware and available for Joe's attempts to make contact. In a similar way I enjoy a "forever-promised" relationship with Jesus, too.
Promised in His Presence...dmc
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
With all the thoughts that wander and whirl through our brains, it is good to know that we don't need to "know it all" we just need to "know Him!" Every time we use our minds to ponder on the things of God, to practically apply His Truth, to envision how we can advance His Kingdom and how we can touch others, bringing glory to His Name...we are using our minds as they were intended to be used! It's about knowing Him - really knowing Him - intimately knowing Him!
It is good for me to reassess my thought life often...to be aware of the new Truths I have learned and to be prayerfully putting those Truths into action. My mind can get side-tracked with issues and concerns that leave me feeling depleted and spiritually anemic. However, once I 'soft-boot' my brain back onto Him, I can start to experience the benefits of being in His Presence. It may be a life-long task for me to train and retrain my brain to be focused on it's primary purpose...knowing Him!
Last Sunday's message from Joe's R12(24x7) sermon series on Romans 12 highlights this perfectly..."be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you be able to discern God's good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)
It's all about knowing Him and knowing His "good, pleasing and perfect will" for our lives.
Training my Brain to Focus on Him...dmc
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Perhaps one of the most haunting battles many Christians face is the tendency to doubt God's goodness in our personal, everyday lives. I discovered that was a frequent challenge in my own life.
Recently I was reading about the effects of doubt on our brains. How doubtful thoughts tend to paralyze our brains, getting them "stuck" on thought patterns that are nonproductive and toxic.
One of my helpful transitions out of spiraling downward into the trap of doubt is to ask myself, "what can I do differently?" rather than asking "what's wrong with me?"
Behind every doubt the enemy throws at me is usually some temptation to look at "what's wrong?" ...with me, with others, with God, etc. However, when I look at what I can do differently I move my thoughts forward into constructive thinking, rather than downward into defeating thoughts patterns.
One of the "do differently" things for me is to immediately pray then praise Him for all His Goodness and for being better at warfare than the devil! When the battle lines are drawn, I am placing myself firmly on God's side, ready to receive a firm VICTORY!
Fully Trusting in God's Love...dmc
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Years ago when I was in graduate school, training to become a counselor, the Lord revealed the most powerful insight to me. He clearly told me to use my "third ear...the one in the center of your heart!" Which suddenly made sense to me...HEART !!
Whenever I am in a counseling session, it is critical to listen carefully to the client, but at the same time I can listen with my third ear to hear what God is saying. It's like having another counselor in the room...His Holy Spirit...giving insight beyond the obvious, beyond training, beyond human wisdom.
Revelation 2 & 3 often repeats the challenge that "anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says." Our devotional today talks about "the wonder of communing with the Creator of the universe!"
I marvel at the ways His Spirit leads in awesome, freeing Truth!
Keeping my Third Ear tuned in...dmc
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Through the years I've become aware of how various life dynamics can tend to drain off my energy while others tend to give me energy. Learning how to wisely monitor that and pace myself has been very helpful. However, I have discovered that spending quality time in God's Word really helps me navigate my day, refocus and pace my overall energy much better. There's a little acrostic I've crafted to help me specifically tackle the demands of each day...STEP Energy!
My ability to cope well and function effectively has a lot to do with the amount of STEP (Spiritual/Thankful/Emotional/Physical) Energy I have. All are needed to cope with the stresses of my daily life. This can certainly vary from day to day, but my overall energy levels are certainly much stronger when I've fueled my STEP tank...which empowers me to take that next step today and every day.
Filling my STEP Tank...dmc
Friday, September 24, 2010
After reading various research projects on the brain and neurology I've come to think of this awareness phenomena as a type of zipper in the mind that brings together two gyri* - one on the right which is more aware of self and one on the left which is more social in nature, being aware of self interacting with others.
I believe that when our awareness is focused on a relationship with God, it can actually enhance our lives so that our total awareness is strengthened. Our awareness of God can give greater clarity to our awareness of self and our interactions with others; enabling us to genuinely love and encourage others.
Much like a well functioning zipper; the pull tab is our God Awareness that helps us mesh together the two gyri, or the two sides of the zipper...Self Awareness and Our Awareness of Others. The metaphor "get a grip on yourself" may be reflective of this ability to adequately zip our lives together in God's Presence and from His Perspective.
When I am well-zipped in Him, it not only holds me together well, it helps me engage well with others.
Getting Well Zipped for the Day...dmc
*(V.S. Ramachandran, Neurology of Self-Awareness. Jan. 8, 2007)
Thursday, September 23, 2010
I just love this devotional truth! I love the freedom and release that comes with forgiveness. I love the incredible deliverance that comes to those who are willing to honestly confess and request forgiveness.
It can be the difference between being victorious over our sin or being victimized by our sin.
Walking in Forgiveness...dmc
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
After Moses had lead the Israelite people through an impossibility (crossing the Red Sea, escaping Pharaoh's fierce Egyptian army) he spontaneously responded with a song of celebratory praise to God, often referred to as "The Song of Moses." (Ex.15:1-2)
I find it interesting to note that there will come a day when we will all sing "The Song of Moses." Revelation 15 calls it "The Song of the Lamb" sung by the redeemed. Rather than at the edge of the Red Sea filled with chariots, it will be sung on the heavenly sea of glass and fire. (Rev. 15:2-4)
We live in a time of turbulent seas and believing God to work out the impossibilities in our own lives can seem like such a challenge yet such an opportunity to experience and celebrate His saving power on our behalf!
We must keep singing the songs of The Lamb who has overcome the cross and the grave and enables us to "overcome by the blood of the Lamb," even in the midst of our own turbulent seas. (Rev. 12:11)
Incidentally, I've discovered that singing the songs of the redeemed often gives me the strength to endure until I am an overcomer.
Singing the Songs of the Redeemed...dmc
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
This devotional thought brought to mind an experience on Sunday morning that touched me deeply. At the close of our service many of us had stepped forward during the closing prayer time. Our little granddaughter had walked with me to the front and we were standing before the platform. Suddenly, she drops her little head down over her arms, resting on the edge of the platform. She stayed in that prayerful stance for quite some time. At one point I bent over and whispered in her ear that Jesus loved her and that I did, too. She whispered back, “Grammy...I praying.” I told her she could pray as long she liked. The expression on her face was so precious, so genuine! My heart was deeply moved...what was God whispering into her tender 4 year old heart? For certain...God knew the whispering thoughts in her heart and was whispering back to her.
I am so grateful that she has experienced her parents responding with tender hearts toward God and that a trip to the altar is a familiar, welcomed journey.
How important it is that we, as adults, demonstrate a tender heart and a listening ear that tunes into the whispers of God.
Whispering the thoughts of my heart to Him, Listening for His Whispers...dmc
Monday, September 20, 2010
I like this quote from Albert Einstein. "The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them."
The problems we wrestle with that are a result of unredeemed thinking and flawed reasoning will often completely unravel when exposed to biblical truth.
I love the brain science that reveals how different areas of the brain are activated when we worry verses when we pray, read the bible or participate in worship.
When we refocus our worrisome thoughts on Jesus we actually active different regions of the brain. No wonder we can "walk through our days with lighter steps and a joyful heart."
Refocusing my Perspective...dmc
Sunday, September 19, 2010
What a challenge, especially for those of us who like to plan ahead and keep life organized...Don't Worry! Sometimes we think that worry is a sign of being really aware, responsible and on-top-of-it. Actually worry is a sign of unbelief and being painfully addicted to it. It, of course, is the issue that has captured our attention along with our sense of peace and well-being.
I like 2 Cor. 10:5 where it instructs us to "take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ." Worry is a well worn path in our minds that forces us to wander down stressful, mental roads of trying to save a some situation or prevent some catastrophe. We were not created or equipped to house worrisome thoughts, therefore we have a Savior who knows how to save us and how to make every thought "obedient to Christ."
Worrisome thoughts crowd out a sense of His Presence and make us more aware of "the anxious thoughts that find me, surround me, and bind me." (quote from Jesus, King of Angels)
Many nights I sing and play this song on the piano before heading to bed. It's one of my most healing, comforting songs.
Continually Getting Rid of Worry...dmc
Copy & Paste: Jesus, King of Angels by Fernando Ortega
Jesus, King of angels, heaven's light,
Shine Your face upon this house tonight.
Let no evil come into my dreams;
Light of heaven, keep me in Your peace.
Remind me how You made dark spirits flee, And spoke Your power to the raging sea.
And spoke Your mercy to a sinful man;
Remind me, Jesus, this is what I am.
The universe is vast beyond the stars,
But You are mindful when the sparrow falls,
And mindful of the anxious thoughts that find me, surround me, and bind me . . . .
With all my heart I love You, Sovereign Lord.
Tomorrow, let me love You even more.
And rise to speak the goodness of Your name Until I close my eyes and sleep again.
Jesus, King of angels, heaven's light,
Hold my hand and keep me through this night.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
The number of choices we make in a single day must be a staggering number! One of the most memorable choices we made that has impacted many other choices was when Joe and I were married. During our ceremony, he spontaneously began praying a very gripping prayer that included Joshua 24:15, "Choose you, this day, whom you will serve...as for me and my house, WE WILL SERVE THE LORD."
That prayer, with that choice, set the foundation for our marriage and for over 35 years we have continued to make the choice to serve the Lord, over and over again! We have no regrets and we're...
Friday, September 17, 2010
Certainly the Bible supports wise planning - "The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage." (Prov. 21:5) - but it's the excessive, compulsive desire to control our future that can lead to unbelief, worry and unhealthy tendencies that enslave us. I suppose our compulsive planning is really a desire to somehow 'fix' the future. It is an attempt to insulate ourselves from possible impending pain. However, living without peace is the most painful kind of existence.
I like the Jeremiah 29:11 passage that reminds us how the Lord has plans for our welfare and our future. His plans will not bring disaster but a hope!
Psalm 37:3-5 sums it up well - Trust in the Lord and do what is good; dwell in the land and live securely. Take delight in the Lord and He will give you your heart's desires. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will act."
"And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:7)
On the Path of Peace...dmc
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Living independently, detached or even distant from God is a very desperate place to be. Conversely, I am quite amazed at how powerful God's Presence can be when I intentionally turn towards Him. James 4:8 says that whenever we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us!
Some situations can leave me feeling distant from His calming Presence and just stopping and acknowledging Him can have a profound effect on me or even on whatever is happening around me. It's like walls of resistance begin to crumble... like levels of darkness start melting away... and a glorious reconnection happens. Whatever was standing in the way, blocking His Presence, is now powerless and the Presence of Jesus can completely envelop me!
2 Corinthians 3:16-18 tells us that whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil (of a deceived, self-centered or confused mind) is removed and the Spirit of God brings freedom that transforms us into the image of Christ "from glory to glory." It's like taking the next step into His Image, one step at a time, being "transformed more and more into the one (He's) designed us to be!" (271)
Moving from one level of glory to the next...dmc
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Not feeling "good enough" is probably one of the most defeating emotional battlegrounds to overcome! Somehow we have a picture in our minds of what we ought to be or what we think others believe we should be. That picture can condemn, rather than inspire, us no matter what we do or how hard we try. The 'hamster wheel" effect it has on our lives can leave us exhausted, discouraged, deeply sad, even hopeless.
Proverbs 13:12 tells us that "hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life." God has placed "trees of life" in our lives...those who speak hope into our hearts. God, Himself, "rejoices over us with gladness... delights in us with shouts of joy." (Zephaniah 3:17)
It reminds me of the passage in Colossians 1:21-29 where we "were once alienated and hostile in our minds...but now He has reconciled us...to present us holy, faultless, and blameless before Him...to make God's message fully known...which is 'Christ in you, the hope of glory.'" To be "reconciled" makes us more than "good enough"...we can actually be God's Delight!
Graciously "good enough" Today...dmc
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
I am amazed at the thought that the breath of God is within and all around me! So amazing...to think He is only a breath away!
Check out this song by Phillip, Craig & Dean, "Your Grace Still Amazes Me"
Breathing in His Amazing Grace...dmc
Monday, September 13, 2010
Have you ever talked back to God? I have! Especially when it comes to some of the physical challenges I have to deal with related to pain. Most of my pain issues stem from inherent spinal weaknesses built into me. I also am having to deal with an inherited misalignment issue in my feet. So, I will need to undergoing several surgical procedures to have correction, not only to help my feet, but to hopefully protect my back from further issues.
All of which leads back to my opening challenge to not talk back to God... questioning the way He fashioned my body, with the various built in flaws I must continually deal with.
Romans 9:20-23 tells me "who are you-anyone who talks back to God? Will what is formed say to the one who formed it, "Why did you make me like this?" or has the potter no right over His clay? What if God did this to make known the riches of His glory on objects of mercy that He prepared beforehand for glory-on us whom He also called..."
I am captured by the thought that my physical weaknesses can be used "to make known the riches of His glory" as I seek to glorify Him, no matter what!
I know people who carry a much weightier physical challenge than I do and others who must carry heavy emotional/relational challenges that nearly break my heart, yet they truly inspire me. In all this..."rather than evaluating (His) ways" we must "accept them thankfully...(and)worship (Him)as King of Kings." It's good for me to remember that I was...
Created first and foremost to know Him and to glorify Him...dmc
Sunday, September 12, 2010
I really identify with the "activity addiction" issue. Our schedules are filled and our opportunities "to sit quietly in (His) Presence" are so limited. Because of that, we have to intentionally guard our schedules, protecting our quiet times with Him.
Perhaps one of the most destructive strongholds of this age is our general addiction to activity and the overall busyness that overwhelms our lives.
Time spent with Him and "living close to (Him) is a sure defense against evil" and protection against our destructive addictions.
Actively Addressing my Activity-Driven Life...dmc :)
Saturday, September 11, 2010
There is such a HUGE difference between those who are content and those who are discontent. The bible makes it clear that contentment provides an environment for life that is exceptional and to be highly desired. Those who KNOW Christ can experience contentment "in all circumstances." That is quite a feat! So, what is the secret to that kind of contentment?
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: REJOICE!" (Phil. 4:4) Rejoice literally means to "re-joy," choosing joy over and over again. Choosing to celebrate something in every situation takes a little creativity and a lot of focus. Of course, it depends on...what we focus on!
Joe and I try to intentionally focus on reasons to rejoice in the midst of all circumstances. Yesterday we were delayed significantly in our travels and could have easily been quite annoyed but decided to thank the Lord, no-matter-what! Within the hour we came up on a multi-vehicle accident scene with lots of people in the ditches and on the road. As we slowly drove past we prayed for those involved then realized we needed to praise God for wisely pacing our travels.
There's reasons to "rejoice" no-matter-what because we have a love-relationship with a loving God who really knows what's best, no-matter-what!
No-matter-what I'm choosing to be Content...dmc
Friday, September 10, 2010
The devo for today is all about the companionship we have in Christ. There's lots of research supporting the benefits of companionship, such as the impact of pets on the elderly, the blind, or the lonely. Recently I received research detailing how even earth worms may seem to prefer being together over being isolated.
Quoting the research article, "Ants colonize. Fish shoal. Flamingos flock and caribou herd. Earth is populated by inherently social beings. Even lowly worms seek out the benefits of companionship. New research has dissected the social proclivities of a model worm, identifying a single type of neuron -- RMG -- that "decides" whether these worms will mingle with their fellows or keep to themselves." (Neurons That Control Sociability In Worms Defined, Saturday, April 18, 2009 - 21:28 in Biology & Nature.)
It's as if all of creation is genetically crafted for companionship. Romans 8 tells how all of "creation eagerly waits with anticipation" for Christ to return, even "groaning together." (v. 18-25)
Watching my precious father-in-law recently say his earthly farewell to his wife of 73 years and now living without her companionship reminds me of how we are deeply crafted by God for companionship. "It is not good for the man to be alone..." (Gen. 2:18)
What a comfort to hear Jesus say, "Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matt. 18:20)
Grateful He is WITH me...dmc
PS - Happy 7th Birthday to our grandson, Noah Michael Colaw!!!
Thursday, September 9, 2010
I love the verse found in Isaiah 26:3..."You will keep in perfect peace the mind that is dependent (stayed) on You, for it is trusting in You." (HCS)
The figurative paths we journey in our minds steal away our peace far more often than the literal paths we walk in life. I can roam down endless paths of frustration and fear that will become a worrisome reality only inside my own head! What a waste of "precious time and energy."
Jesus died for us to live an "abundant life" and many die having lived a burdened life...wandering down miserable paths Jesus never intended for His own.
The challenge is... to live like the redeemed we must think like the redeemed!
Rethinking Redeeming Thoughts...dmc
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
When the demands of my day are beyond my strength or ability, having absolute trust can become the absolute test! Similar to a multiple choice test with two alternatives, I must choose, "moment by moment" to:
A. Regress (fall backward)
B. Rely (fall forward)
I have discovered that even when I choose to rely (fall forward) on God, the circumstances of my day or the condition of my body may not change. So, what initiated my dilemma may still be in place. However, the big change happens in the atmosphere of my mind! My thoughts are altered, my perspective is broadened and I realize...it's NOT all about ME! He is working on something far grander than me and I am just a small part of a much bigger picture. So, He gives me just enough strength, enough wisdom, enough of His Presence to equip and empower me for each moment. I find it easier to trust Him with my impossible days when I do it a moment at a time!
For me, the biggest challenge is making that initial choice to trust Him, absolutely, in the impossible moment! Then, moment by moment, day by day, week by week, year by year a whole lifetime is lived....
Falling Forward into His Sovereignty and Faithfulness...dmc
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
As a counselor, I deal often in the areas of guilt, false-guilt, condemnation, forgiveness, grace and true innocence. All of which we could blog endlessly about. In the throes of real life, real relationships and a certain eternity, all of the above can become quite tangled and tricky to navigate. Here's my quick summarizing, yet rather incomplete thoughts...
The opposite of guilt is not necessarily grace, but rather, innocence. When grace preaching implies and fosters a false innocence, we are being deceived and a type of spiritual paralysis sets in, numbing our hearts from spiritual sensitivity and from the Truth that can and WILL set us free!
When I am guilty of falling short of God's directives, the resulting guilt is a healthy, God-given response to my lack of obedience or fallen innocence. I must recognize my guilt so I can receive God's glorious love-gift of grace.
When people come to me, desiring freedom from the messy issues of their lives, I hinder them if I skip over the realities of their own guilt (lack of innocence) before ushering them into God's forgiving grace. I like to say "Forgiveness is GIVEN FOR the mess!" So, confess the mess and move on!
It is true that preaching, not anchored in God's love, can be harsh and condemning, using guilt to manipulate. However, preaching that flows from God's heart of love will "stir us on toward love and good deeds" (Heb. 10:42) because we are called and crafted to live for eternal purposes...purposes far beyond ourselves. His love inspires us to deal honestly with ourselves, graciously with others, and generously with the Church, His Bride. (Eph.5:25-32)
Am I fallen, guilty, condemned? Yes. Am I forgiven, graced and called? Yes!
I am so grateful for the privilege of sitting under healthy preaching that honestly deals with guilt, respectfully handles grace, and totally embraces God's Love!
(If you're going to marry a preacher...marry a good one! It's hard to vote him out, move him out or attend another church!)
Praising God for a Preacher-Husband filled with God's Love & Truth...dmc
Monday, September 6, 2010
Years ago I had an older christian tell me that to pray over something one time was sufficient and that there was no need to repeat that prayer. Well, I found that very hard to do. Probably because of my own flawed nature, I needed to present concerns to God whenever they were messing with me, not just initially, but continually.
This devotional encourages someone like me, who needs a 'User-friendly' Savior who can be accessed often and easily.
Relying on Jesus Continually...dmc
Sunday, September 5, 2010
What a strange, yet wonderful mix...alchemy...the chemistry of humanity and the chemistry of divinity, mingled and mixed to offer us a glorious sense of "eternal reality" in the midst of our "dusty, earthbound" existence.
"For His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness...He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them (we) may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world..." (2 Peter 1:3-4)
Living in His Presence is like "living in two realms simultaneously." To be an overcomer, I must 'come over' and capture more and more of His Divine Nature through the application of His "great and precious promises!"
In His Chemistry Class...dmc
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Basic to our human nature is the need to belong. Some settings foster a sense of belonging while other situations cause one to feel uneasy, out-of-place and awkward. The one place I want to "belong" and I want my kids and grand kids to be feel like they belong is in the Presence of God!
I am grateful for an upbringing that allowed me to experience the Presence of God and drew me close to Him. My parents, home church, circle of friends and various spiritual mentors welcomed me into a vital relationship with God by inviting me to join them in their spiritual journey. With one arm they embraced Him and with the other arm they embraced me...and "together we pushed back the darkness!"
We need to embrace others and let them discover they can belong to the Light ...and not to darkness!
I Belong to Jesus...dmc
Friday, September 3, 2010
I love the early morning dew...where tiny drops of water create little sparkling gems that reflect a rainbow of brilliant colors. Thinking of my morning devotional time as a refreshing dew inspires me. It certainly prompts my mind to be filled with gem-like thoughts that can be a reflection of His sparkling Presence throughout the rest of my day!
In His Dewy Presence...dmc
Thursday, September 2, 2010
We are in the midst of saying our more formal earthly farewells to Mom Colaw who graduated from this earthly life to eternal life in heaven on August 27. It causes for some serious ponderings related to the task of living out a daily winsome witness. Mom touched so many in her nearly 93 years of life.
It reminded me of today's passage to live so that "Christ's power may reside in me...in weaknesses, in insults, in catastrophes, in persecutions, and in pressures. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Cor.12:9-10)
Our lives are filled with moments of weakness, painful insults, unforeseen catastrophes, unfair persecutions, and mounting pressures that can overwhelm the best of any saint...but we are only in this Laboratory of Life for a limited amount of time. The secret is to Collaborate with Jesus.
It reminds me of being in a science lab working with a lab partner who knows how to successfully accomplish the lab experiment...and I get credit for all His efficient work!!
Co-partnered in the Co-lab of Life...dmc
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Rough patches in life show up all over... road construction, marriage difficulties, parenting challenges, school academia, financial stresses...even rough, scaly skin is considered alligator hide and must be doused with lotion! (According to the TV advertisements!)
Rough times are just a part of life, the not-so-desired part, but certainly part of our journey. Although "these adversities may be shrouded in mystery" His Presence "is an absolute promise."
I find it a comfort to know He is watching. He is...
Aware & There...dmc