Friday, October 31, 2014

Quote of the Day

 In honor of Reformation Day, I wanted to share with you a beautiful prayer from the writings of Martin Luther, who we remember on this special day:


" Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled. My Lord, fill it. 
I am weak in the faith; strengthen thou me. I am cold in love; warm me
and make me fervent that my love may go out to my neighbor. I do not
have a strong and firm faith; at times I doubt and am unable to trust thee
altogether. O Lord, help me. Strengthen my faith and trust in thee. In thee
have I sealed the treasure of all I have."


Amen, Lord. May it be said of me also...

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Always Good Enough

 We have all been there before: feeling like we are never good enough, no matter how hard we try. Failure seems to be our ever-present friend. So often, we have the impression that God operates like that and that we can never please Him. But what we fail to realize is that, when He chooses to love, when He showers us with His grace, we are already pleasing to Him. Even if we have lived the worst life possible - He still sees us as beautiful. He still sees us as being good enough. And that should set us free. That should make us live in joy. That should be good enough for us, too. 


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Quote of the Day



"We obsess over perfection while forgetting the process of 
imperfection that it takes to get there."
- Meyers Leonard,
NBA basketball player


Learn to be okay with your weaknesses. God will reveal His strength through you
no matter how often you have failed. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Quote of the Day







"It has been well said that we write our benefits in dust and our injuries
 in marble! And it is equally true that we generally inscribe our afflictions 
 upon brass, while the records of the deliverances of God are written in water.
It ought not to be! If our memories were more tenacious of the merciful 
visitations of God, our faith would often be strengthened in times of trial."
- C.H. Spurgeon

Monday, October 27, 2014

First Snow

 I pull back the curtains and smile at the white world outside. Overnight, a fresh layer of snow has fallen, turning a bare, brown earth into a blanket of purity. I think of how God promises to do the same for me: that my ugliest moments - the days when I felt the most exposed and bare - He can transform them into something fresh and new. He makes the broken beautiful! 



 I thank Him for the seemingly small ways in which He reminds me of His love. A mere snowfall becomes a grace-moment, one in which I am allowed to experience God. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Reaching


Reaching*

You stand on the brink of disaster;
You feel the sting of pain;
You watch your dreams go crumbling
Time and time again.
You stare right into darkness;
You search for empty light;
You cry for any beacon 
To lead you through the night.
But though you're worn and tired
And wander very far,
Child, beat and broken,
God can reach you where you are.

You're waiting for a verdict;
You know the shame you bear,
But in your hopeless hour,
No human soul is there.
You fight through endless longings;
You push away the sin
But only find that, over time, 
More and more comes in.
You're looking for a Savior,
A shining Light, a Star -
Child, torn and broken,
God can reach you where you are.

You cannot see life's dawning;
You are too weak to stand;
But, to the saving rescue,
There comes an out-stretched hand.
With arms so full of mercy,
And eyes so full of love,
Grace is at the ready -
God-breathed from above.
Embracing to the fullest,
With light that streams afar -
Child, worn and broken,
Let Him reach you where you are!

                       

*copyrighted 2014 Katherine Singer

Friday, October 24, 2014

Smile


 Sometimes, the hardest thing to do is to smile. Life throws us things that don't seem to be smile-worthy. But, I have often found that the most beautiful smiles, the most lovely songs, are the ones that are given out of a hurting heart. When there isn't much to be thankful for, when there seems to be no happiness anywhere in your life, and you still allow the light to shine through - that is when God is most clearly seen. That is when Grace is most deeply felt. Here now, is an old song called "Smile" which is sung by one of my favorite musical groups: "Il Volo."



Thursday, October 23, 2014

Quote of the Day



"Worry is not believing God will get it right, and bitterness 
is believing God got it wrong."
- Timothy Keller

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Son-Warming

 I stare at the leaves, brown and covered with a thick layer of late-Autumn frost. What was once green and full of life is now dead and lifeless. All looks of an end. All appears hardened and cold. 
 I think of my own soul. Just like the leaves, I feel covered in a cold frost that is life's trials. The lifelessness runs deep. Penetrates low. I long to feel alive as I once did not that long ago. 


   Just then, I look around, and I realize that the sun is shining. The warmth is trying to seep through the icy-cold and thaw. As it does its work, the frost begins to sparkle and shine. Beauty always comes from the cold places. The Son of my soul brings warmth to the dying places, thaws out the hard and life-less corners of my heart. I am not beyond His reach. I am never so distant that He cannot call. That He cannot warm with His love. Unlike the leaves which can never come alive again, I can be re-born. Renewed in the depths of my soul and mind. Emptiness giving way to fullness. I can be resurrected and brought to life abundant. 
  Sun causes the ice crystals to soften and turn to water. The drops are moisture to a thirsty heart. The Water of Life makes new. 
  Given the promise of hope, I breathe a silent "thank-you" because these moments of spiritual sight are all around. These moments are from Him.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

His Fullness In My Emptiness

 Some days you just feel empty. Some days you feel like you are running on nothing. The happy moments are few and far between. The heaviness of life bears down hard. I find it difficult to find the song in my heart. It seems to have gone silent. The notes long gone.
 I think about the happy-sad that is life: one moment laughter; the next, one of tears. One moment singing; the next, one of groaning and pain. Often, I fight the sad and only want the happy. It used to trouble me that I had to have both, but that was the blind me. The me who didn't understand. The me who had run away from Grace. I now see that my  wishes were unrealistic. One cannot avoid the sad. And one cannot exclude the happy. Both must exist together. Both have much to teach me if I will remain open and look up. If I will embrace them.
 Today, I ponder the odd reality: while I busy myself with the day's work, a friend lies fighting for his life in a hospital in Texas. While I sing a song of thankfulness, my heart still weighs heavy. This isn't something to run from. This is something to accept. I must accept that I will always have such opposites in my life and will never experience the forever-happy until I reach the gates of Heaven. Life is all about finding the hidden joy no matter what trials come about. Whatever the season, it is about learning to say that today, this day, is the best day of my life. Even when my heart is heavy, this should be enough to cheer it. Enough to sustain it. Because He exists. Because He cares. Because He is forever.


 "I lift up my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from?" (Psalm 121:1) The question hangs in the air. Yes…where? But the answer comes as I gaze at the beauty around me. As I see what He has made. And I feel His love. I sense Him filling my emptiness, bringing clarity to the happy-sad within. "My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." I breathe deep and take in His life-giving peace. The grace-moments are always there. I just have to stop and notice. Because, when I do, His fullness fills me, and I can continue on once again. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Quote of the Day




" Beauty, God Himself, is the voice endlessly calling and so we see. 
So we reach. Doubt the philosophies, doubt the prophecies, doubt 
the Pharisees (especially the ones seen in mirrors), but who can doubt
this - Beauty Himself? Beauty requires no justification, no explanation;
it simply is and transcends. See beauty and we know it in the marrow,
even if we have no words for it: Someone is behind it. Beauty Himself
completes. This is what I'm famished for: more of the God-glory. The only
place we have to come before we die is the place of seeing God."
- Ann Voskamp in One Thousand Gifts Devotional 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Quote of the Day



"We know God saves. Some days we wonder why, but when there
 is a breakthrough is someone else's life our questions quickly become answered."


Thanks to my friend, Garett Mansfield, for this great insight. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Prayer




"Oh grant me wisdom from above,
To pray for peace and cling to love,
And teach me humbly to receive
The sun and rain of Your sovereignty.
Each strand of sorrow has a place
Within this tapestry of grace;
So through the trials I choose to say:
'Your perfect will in your perfect way.'"
- Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Quote of the Day


"If I'm grateful for anything…it's for the way God has wrecked my idealism
about myself and the world and replaced it with a realism about the extent 
of His grace and love, which is much bigger than I ever imagined. Indeed,
the smaller you get - the smaller life makes you - the easier it is to see the 
grandeur of God…While I am far more incapable than I may have initially
thought, God is infinitely more capable than I ever hoped." 
- Tullian Tchividjian in One-Way Love 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Hope In Front of Me





"But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you."
- Psalm 39:7

God never leaves…no matter how dark the days are. There is always hope in front of us and a hand holding us, even if we don't believe it at the time.
Check out this beautiful song regarding this deep truth...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Steps of Purpose

 I walked along the creaky floors. They were worn with time, having been trodden upon for nearly two centuries. The town which housed the building in which I now stood had been established in the 1850s.
 Many feet had walked on these wooden boards. I stood there...amazed at their longevity and the incredible sense of history I felt.
 I began to think: shouldn't my life be a well-worn path of purpose by which others may come and see the Way? Like these old floors, shouldn't the steps I tread leave a legacy of hope for future generations? I was moved as I stared at the floor once again. How little I often realize the marks I leave behind me! Even more than just living a life of purpose and setting a worthy example - I must do more. Shouldn't I lead them to follow the One I know and love? Do not His footsteps matter more than mine?!! He has set out the course by which I must abide. Others can be led toward His truth because of how I live, and that is the example I want to set. I want my footsteps to be traced in the footsteps of my Savior. I want those who come behind me to be inspired to believe because my life point them to the cross. I want them to discover grace. To discover God.
 Once more, I run my feet across the beaten floor. The way I walk has also been trodden by many. I am not alone. The precious words of an old hymn come to mind, and I adapt them to make it more fitting to my own prayer and desire:


"Sweetly, Lord, have  [I] heard Thee calling,
Come, follow Me;
And [I] see where Thy footsteps falling
Lead [me]to Thee.

  Footprints of Jesus 
   That make the pathway glow;
   [I] will follow the steps of Jesus
   Where're they go."

 Yes...I will follow Him wherever He leads and will hope to leave behind me steps of purpose by which other lives may be led to follow Him also.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Open Doorways





 May our lives be like open doorways: places which others can walk through freely and have trusting access to all that we offer; well-worn entrances where the hurting can come and find hope and rest because of what we hold inside - because of Who resides within. No closed doors which shut out all that is good and full and leave only the dying and dark to eat us alive. Rather, a beautiful place of love, welcome, and life. 
 May our lives be a picture of the One who said Himself, "I am the door." Yes, the doorway to abundance and grace, to peace and all that is good. The doorway to eternal happiness and blessing. And may those who enter through discover for themselves the Savior who gives life to those who are open to receive Him. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Quote of the Day


"If you cannot magnify God, it is probably because you are magnifying yourself."
- Charles H. Spurgeon

Music - A Soothing Balm

 Music. It's a beautiful thing...
I sit down and begin to play the piano. As notes flow from the ivories and into the lobby of a hospital in southern Oregon, I become aware that there are more ears listening than just mine and my family members. Patients are coming out of their rooms to listen. The soaring strains fill the large room. There are about sweet surrender, of delighting in God because He knows me. Perhaps others can hear it say the same.


 It is late in the evening, and I must go home. After many unexpected "thank you"s, the impromptu concert is over.
 I drive away more convinced than ever of the soothing ability of music, of the fact that it is one of the ways through which God reaches a hurting world. Music can comfort both body and soul and is documented as having strong healing capabilities. I have long seen this to be true both in my life and the lives of others. There is something about the way the notes come together, the way they unite in a melody of song, that lifts the heart when it grows heavy. Maybe this is because God has said that we were made for "the praise of His glory" and that I honor Him most when I offer back to Him the tune in my heart. Because the joy originated with Him. He began the song. And I am merely the echo. Sometimes it comes with a less than happy strain, but it still comes. And He blesses. And I feel the Grace return.
 Music. Where would I be...where would this world be...without it?!! It truly is a beautiful thing.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Fire of Life

  
 I drove through the little town and stared at the charred remains. Weeks earlier a terrible forest fire had ripped through the community, burning over one hundred homes. In the shadow of stunning Mt. Shasta, there now was black brush, torched ground. The dry trees and soil looked parched...no rain had fallen in months. There was a drought in effect. The recent fire's devastation didn't help any.


 I know what it feels like to be dry, to see the flames of life's tragedy come close to burning me right through. I have felt the heat. There have been times when I am charred by the fire, times when all I see are the broken stumps, the ruins of death and devastation.


 But I also know what it's like to hope. I know what it's like to feel the rain, to watch the drops of Grace fall down and seep into the dry cracks of my parched soul. I have tasted of the Water of Life. Only this can heal, can make alive again. Only Him. This is hope in full. This is how I can pass through the flames, can watch it all burn in front of me and still say, "Life is good." Because He is good. A little of the Life-Water and new life springs from the dead. Renewal always follows. His promise is forever true: I will make streams in the desert. The wasteland will become fertile once more. My soul can hope. The fire can refine and precede a great restoration. Can make way for God to move. 
 So let the flames burn...what does not belong will be consumed, and what remains will be of far greater value. Even more will be what emerges from the rubble - a hope that lasts forever and a God who promises to restore.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Quote of the Day



"Father of mercies, we thank You for trials and temptations;
we thank you even for seasons of grace withheld because these
are designed to arouse our fear of You and stir us up to take hold
of You for deliverance."
           - Jeremiah Small in Reflections

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Quote of the Day



"The strength of our God is made perfect in our weakness; our 
failures, our poverty, they are not too much for Him. He searches
out our emptiness; His eyes are on the broken and contrite. We will
put our trust in Him…"
- Jeremiah Small in Reflections

Friday, October 3, 2014

Quote of the Day


"Jesus Christ knows the worst about you. Nonetheless, He is the one
who loves you most."
- A. W. Tozer