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October 2004 Archives

October 1, 2004

Sowing Obedience

Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 2 Corinthians 9:13

Do we comprehend the power of obedience? Not just in our own lives, but in the lives we encounter?

Oh, the witness it can be to those around us - to follow through with commitments - to remain true to one's vows - to do what it takes to keep it all together! These are the seeds of perseverance that bring a spiritual harvest, for where obedience is sown, hope abounds. To see God's grace lived out in the life of another can encourage a brother trapped by despair.

Lord, I am encouraged by those around me. They remain obedient in the toughest of circumstances. Like them, help me to be an encouragement to others. Help me to obey Your Word today.

October 2, 2004

Weighty Words

For some say, "His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person, he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing." 2 Corinthians 10:10

Paul was real. He was authentic. What he wrote in a letter, he would courageously say in person.

Recently, I have been reading a book that is full of great reflection and insight. A friend of mine has known the author for over twenty years, and when I mentioned I was reading it, he commented about his surprise when he read it. From him perspective, the author in person never seemed so intuitive. The book is bold, yet my friend said the author is pretty meek.

I wonder what others think of me if they read my words.

Years ago, I had a rude awakening about how others see me in person. The first book in the "Left Behind" series had just become a bestseller. One day during a conference, the book became the topic of discussion at the lunch table. I commented to my co-workers about some of the spiritual aspects of the book. A man from another city who had merely seen me in seminars looked at me and plainly stated, "You know. I have never seen you as a spiritual person."

Ouch! For a Christian man who finds great joy in the Word, reflecting upon it - writing out my thoughts, I was stunned. I sure wasn't portraying myself the way I wanted!

I have never forgotten those words. Every day I try to live out the truth which the Spirit reveals to me. But I often wonder... Am I the same man when my Bible is not on my lap?

Lord, help me to be an authentic man. Help me to become a man of reflection and wisdom. Help me to become more like Christ. When others look at me, let there be no doubt; I am Yours.

October 3, 2004

Something to Boast About

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 2 Corinthians 11:30

Jesus came and lowered Himself, so we could be raised up. Our hearts should be like His - humble, compassionate, and accepting. The moment we elevate ourselves is the moment the gospel is dishonored.

The Apostle Paul knew this. He lived in a time when the church was young. Christians were experiencing the Holy Spirit's work and enjoying their newfound community with Christ. But they were vulnerable. False teachers could easily sway them. Men of words often entered their midst touting a new gospel - one that always seemed to elevate themselves.

The truth is normally evident in humility - not a false humility that is intended to manipulate for personal gain, but a humility that is revealed through love, kindness, and good works.

Paul had the right to be praised. He had earned it. His body showed the scars of his work for the gospel. Yet he acknowledged that the only thing in which he could boast was his weakness. Our weaknesses are like holes in the clouds that allow sunrays to burst forth. It is through them that others can see the light of Christ. Any other thing about which we might boast is worthless. These things keep Him from being seen.

Lord, I confess there are times I am proud. Little areas of growth become objects of pride. In the end, You receive no glory, for I have taken it for myself. Help me, Lord, to rejoice in my weaknesses - and there are many. Through them You are revealed. They are reminders of what You can do. Save us, Lord. May Your Name be praised.

October 4, 2004

Embracing Weakness

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9b

Paul learned a valuable lesson. To embrace weakness is to allow Christ the ability to take up residence in us. Our weaknesses are reminders of our humanity Although we have the power of God at our disposal, we will never be equal to Him. He is always greater. We will always be lesser.

Then why is it that I spend so much time and effort trying to overcome my weaknesses - trying to simply be strong - rather than embracing them? I am not saying that I should give into weakness - acknowledging a weakness does not give me the freedom to sin. It gives the Spirit the room to dwell - the space to heal - the power to strengthen me. When will I learn that to embrace a weakness is to give it to Christ?

Lord, my whole life seems to be filled with escape routes. I'm weary from running away. We are called to flee temptation, but somehow running has become my solution for most things. I cannot hide from my weaknesses. Eventually, they always find me. Isn't it interesting how the heart is made stronger by running, yet the body is strengthened by resistance. Any athlete will tell you. A balanced training regiment requires both aerobic exercise and weight training.

Help me, Spirit, to flee temptation but to push against weakness - to face it - to give You freedom to carry it for me.

I am made stronger when I let You do the work.

October 5, 2004

Would you pass?

Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you - unless, of course, you fail the test? 2 Corinthians 13:5

If Christianity required that we take a test, would I pass it? If someone were to closely examine my life, what would he find? Would there be evidence of His presence? There would certainly be secrets that might shock a few, but would someone see Him? And how long would that search require?

My prayer is that Jesus Christ is evident, even to the casual observer. If it takes close examination in order to see Him, I need to make a change.

Lord, my only hope is Christ in me. I long to live a life that reflects You. Sometimes I still miss the mark. Sometimes I still hide in the dark.

Help me to pass the test.

October 6, 2004

Without Excuse

For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:20

In truth, there is no man who will get to the end of his life without knowing God is real. Any man who claims he never saw Him is a fool and a liar. He is evident in all of creation. No man can truly refute His existence.

Recently, I saw an interview with Rick Warren, the author or "The Purpose Driven Life" and pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California. Interestingly, he stated that for the first several months he was in California he simply knocked on doors and talked to people about God and the church. He commented that in all his knocking, he didn't find one atheist. Not one! In Southern California?! Every person he met believed in God, yet most were disillusioned with the church.

My guess is that even the most vocal atheists tend to doubt their beliefs at times.

My son has a college professor who gained national notoriety when he refused to provide recommendation letters for students who would not acknowledge evolution as fact. It has been an interesting lesson for my son - to sit in a class with a brilliant teacher who has been dooped by the enemy. Even this man will someday be surprised when God asks, "Did you know Me and My Son?"

Lord, continue to reveal Yourself to the world. Forgive us for denying You. Bring Your children out of the shadows into the light, so that those trapped in the darkness might find hope. Change the hearts of the lost. Soften the heart of my son's teacher.

October 7, 2004

Blasphemy

You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? As it is written: "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." Romans 2:23-24

The biggest problem with Christianity is Christians. We are our own worst enemies. How many times have you heard it said of church, "Oh, I won't go there because the people are hypocrites"? It isn't the teaching that keeps them away. It's the teachers. And every man who claims to know Christ yet reflects ungodliness is a teacher. The world learns that the church is not a safe place of acceptance and love. What we say with our mouths, we often negate with our action.

I met a man in a Christian support group several weeks ago. I don't know him well; he is not really more than an acquaintance, but I admire him already. This man has struggled a great deal with what life has dealt him. Most men facing what he has would have quit on life a long time ago. I respect what he says, yet this morning I am torn.

Last night, in almost the same breath, he shared powerful words of wisdom about how blessed he is by his wife and how he is putting into action a plan to take his life. My human nature says, "What a load of bull!" How can he so wonderfully verbalize how his wife has stood by him, while he plans to abandon her? How can I respect anything he says? His own words betray him!

Interestingly, almost immediately after his confession, his body seemed to betray him as well. Moments after his grand oratory about the relationship between husband and wife, he admitted to our group that he was experiencing severe chest pains. After racing from the room, with someone quickly following, he lay on the floor struggling as his heart seemed to turn on him. I have never witnessed a heart attack before. It was quite an experience. My prayer this morning is that he made it through the night and is better today. Certainly, I would have heard by now if he hadn't.

The whole experience has me thinking. How many times have I said one thing and done another? How many times have I blasphemed the name of God because my words didn't match my actions? How will my blasphemy be discovered? Will my heart betray me?

Lord, help me to live the life I long to teach. Help me to learn from all this. May You be glorified by Your Church - and by me.

~ Afternoon Post Script... He is doing well today. In the hospital for some tests. Lord, touch his body. Touch his spirit. Heal his heart.

October 8, 2004

Righteousness through Faith

Do we then nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. Romans 3:31

Have I ever understood the phrase, "righteousness through faith"? To me, righteousness seems to be something we achieve - someplace we can reach if we work hard enough at following the rules. This is a fundamental understanding that tends to be misunderstood in the extreme. When this premise is not fully understood, one is either to the far right or to the far left - a fundamentalist or a liberal. We tend to believe that either our works are important, or our faith is important. There really isn't much in between.

Or is it possible that it isn't an "either - or"? Maybe, it is a "both - and."

True righteousness is never about what we do. It is about who we are. My actions do not make me righteous. Jesus makes me righteous! My actions are merely a reflection of who I am. If I struggle to uphold the law, maybe I need a Savior after all.

Lord, change me from the inside - out. Let my actions reflect my heart. Let my heart be a reflection of You.

October 9, 2004

Never Counted

"Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him." Romans 4:8

Quoting Psalm 32, Paul reminded the Romans that God covers the sins of those who believe. Our sins are never counted against us. This means so much more after Christ's death and resurrection.

In David's time, when these words were first written, the covering of sins required action by the priests. Atonement came through ritual reminders of God's love.

After Jesus walked the earth, we can now know beyond all doubt that we are forgiven, for it no longer requires man's action. God has done it all!

Lord, if You will never count my sins against me, when will I learn to forgive my failures. No matter how much I learn about Your grace, I struggle to live in it. Help me, Father, to start loving myself with unconditional love. In the light of forgiveness, I will find freedom from the enemy's chains. I am no longer a slave to sin. I am forgiven!

October 10, 2004

Saved through His Life!

For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Romans 5:10

I wonder if the Lord gets tired of my constant whining. Most days I am so consumed with being righteous that when I miss the mark, I tend to sit and pout. It is as if I am saying, "I just can't do it! I will never get this right. The temptations are too big. Maybe I should just quit!"

Well, yes. I can't do it. I will never get it right, and the temptations are too big. But quitting is not an option, because in Christ I can do it. I can get it right, and the temptations aren't too big. Rather than pouting, I should change my thinking. When I fail, which is more often that I would like to admit, my words should be, "How did I forget? Jesus died for me; I am saved. Jesus lives with me; I am still righteous."

Simply because we fail, the truth isn't changed. We are made righteous by Christ's blood, and this righteousness is not negated by our actions. I am not saying sin should be taken lightly. But we must understand this: there is nothing we can do that will make Him leave us. Once He saves us, we are saved indeed. With this understanding, we can walk in His life. His death has already done its work. We no longer need to be made clean because we already are!

Lord, forgive my forgetfulness. I am righteous - not by my actions, but by the blood of Your Son. Help me to walk as a righteous man does. How much more am I saved by Your life!

Live in me today.

October 11, 2004

Evil Desires

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal bodies so that you obey its evil desires. Romans 6:12

A Christian's struggle with sin is not a new phenomenon. Accepting Christ as Savior doesn't flip some magical switch that instantly transforms us. We are still mortal. We still reside in this body that has been trained to seek out what is contrary to God's plan. Evil desires are a part of the human condition, and sin is not easily removed from our bodies.

Lord, there are certain things about myself that I am learning to accept. The evil desires in me, although I hate to admit it, are a part of who I am. Surrendering to righteousness does not require that I change these desires, for they come with the territory; they are a part of this fallen world. Surrendering to righteousness involves turning from the desires my body has come to know.

Help me, Lord, to die to sin. Help me to disregard the evil my body desires. Help me to seek holiness today.

October 12, 2004

Two Masters

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Romans 7:25b

How can we have two masters, God's law and the law of sin? We either serve one, or we serve the other. Yet Paul describes himself in this way - a slave to both.

I guess a simpler question would be: How is Jesus both man and God?

We don't know; it just IS!

Lord, my struggle is so... ordinary. Despite the way I see it sometimes, as something unique that no one else could ever understand, it is nothing new. There has been a battle between the spiritual and the unspiritual since Adam and Eve stood under that tree.

Help me to see the truth: I am not the most hideous man to walk the face of the earth. The enemy wants me to believe this because it shifts my focus away from the right Master. Help me to turn my eyes to You. Help me to hear Your voice. Help me to serve You alone today.

October 13, 2004

The Spirit of Sonship

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." Romans 8:15

I am so tired of being afraid. For much of my life, I have been a slave to fear. How easily I forget that I have received a Spirit of sonship. The next time I sense that sin is watching - the next time I find myself face to face with temptation, I need to remember these words: "My Dad is bigger than your dad; He can take your dad any day!"

Lord, when sin reaches out to introduce himself to me, I too often find myself trembling in fear. Alone, I am too weak to fight it. But I know You are with me. Give me the confidence to say, "You don't own me!" I belong to You, Father. Hold me close. Fight the battles for me. Help me to see victory in this life!

October 14, 2004

Why did you make me like this?

But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?'" Romans 9:20

Paul asks the question, "Who are you to talk back to God?" He's right. Who are we to question God - to doubt His perfect will? But we do it anyway.

Possibly the most amazing truth is: God lets us!

He is big enough to handle our questions and doubts. His esteem is not damaged if we talk back to Him. He loves us and will never turn away if we cast undeserved blame on Him.

Many ask, "Why did you make me like this?" If we were puppets, unable to make a free will choice, this might be a valid question. But God doesn't make us to sin; He allows us to sin. His will is never to harm us, but to prosper us.

Lord, there are many who cast the blame on You. "Why did you make me like this?" If I believe the lies of the world that our genes determine our disposition, I might be asking the same question. But I know the truth. You have carried me through - despite the sinner I have become. Circumstances and choices make us who we are. Every one of them, You allow. And everything You allow has a purpose. Every bit of it can draw us back to You - if we allow it.

Help me, Spirit, to see the truth in every circumstance. Help me to understand how my choices have great power to form me. I long to be formed by You. Place Your loving hands on my heart.

Keep me from pride.

October 15, 2004

All Day Long

But concerning Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people." Romans 10:21

What would God say of me? Would He say that He has been waiting all day long with His arms open-wide, but I am too stubborn to place myself in His hands?

Lord, I confess. At times I am disobedient and obstinate. I cling to worldly things in full understanding of the pain it might cause. Like the Pharisees who challenged Christ, I forget that true righteousness comes from You.

Won't the good I do negate the evil? Of course not! A little yeast causes the whole loaf to rise.

Father, help me to let go of anything that might keep me from You. Let me be stubborn in my faith. May You be glorified today.

October 16, 2004

How much greater!

But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring! Romans 11:12

It is truly amazing how God can use failure to bring about success. The Hebrews, His chosen children, rejected Him. When they were given the opportunity to walk with His Son - to exalt Him - to follow Him, they chose to crucify Him instead. Yet it was Christ's crucifixion and subsequent that brought salvation to the world.

Life from Death.

Paul was a Jew. Although he was the apostle to the Gentiles, he never lost the love for his own people. He spoke of their rebellion with sadness, and he acknowledged that it was the hardening of their hearts that opened the door for salvation. But Paul poses a consideration: "How much greater will their fullness bring!" If rebellion brought salvation, what wonderful things would come from obedience?

It isn't easy to admit, but I love rebellion. Not only does it bring momentary pleasure, but in some twisted way I have come to believe that it draws me closer to God. I know this is foolishness. The truth is that rebellion pulls me away from God. But somehow, I've turned it around. I almost enjoy falling in the pit, because it is in the pit that God has held me the tightest.

Lord, I'm having a tough time grasping the idea of holiness. What does it look like to follow You and You alone? It seems when I draw closer to You, I sabotage myself. If I were to let go of my sinful nature, how will I be drawn to You?

I am afraid.

Help me to see that letting go - that giving You the reins - will bring life as I could never have imagined it. How much greater will fullness bring! Let me see it in this lifetime.

October 17, 2004

Wake Up!

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

Joy, patience, and faithfulness - these characteristics represent the kind of person I want to be. They are a picture of wholeness that only comes from a Spirit-filled life.

So why do they so often elude me?

Lord, I too often lose hope. I too often wallow in my affliction, and I too rarely turn to You in prayer. There have been times in my life when I couldn't stop praying. My spirit was continually communing with You - even in the midst of the busiest days. Yet now, I feel like I have fallen asleep. Like the disciples on the night Jesus was arrested, I am weary. I am asleep in the garden.

Awaken my spirit, Father. Draw me close. Make me a joyful, patient, and prayerful man.

October 18, 2004

Armor of Light

The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 13:12

We no longer life in a time when knights roam the countryside on horses in gleaming armor. The armor of old can be seen in museums or in reenactments of days long since past.

Today, the body armor worn by soldiers is not so obvious; it doesn't shine in the sun. Although it is almost disguised, it still has a distinct purpose.

What is this purpose? What does armor do for those who wear it?

For the wearer, armor first EQUIPS. A good soldier is always equipped - ready to move at a moment's notice. Without his armor, a soldier it not fully ready. Armor equips a soldier for the battles ahead.

Next, armor PROTECTS. In the heat of a battle, armor stops the blows of the enemy; it saves a soldier from certain harm. Armor protects a soldier so he can fight again another day.

Finally, armor DISTINGUISHES. From medieval knights to modern day Marines, the duty of fighting for a greater purpose, for one's homeland, for the protection of life, sometimes requires that life be lost. This higher calling is apparent when armor is worn; there is little question about his profession. He stands out in the crowd. Armor makes a soldier distinguishable among his peers.

Paul challenges us to put on the armor of light - to clothe ourselves in Christ. By doing so, we too can experience the benefits that armor brings. We can be equipped and ready to respond when the Father calls us into action. We can be protected from any weapons the enemy might use against us. We can be distinguishable; those around us know who we are and what we are called to do.

Lord, there are some days when I forget my armor. Like a foolish soldier, I am prepared to fail. Forgive me for not trusting You. Help me to become a man of Your calling - a man who is equipped by Your Word, protected by Your Spirit, and known for Your love. Holy Spirit, be my armor today.

October 19, 2004

The Judgment Seat

You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God's judgment seat. Romans 14:10

I have no right to go about pointing fingers at anyone else's sin. The day will come when I stand before God's judgment seat, and there will be plenty that I would rather not be told. But all will be seen and heard. Every secret will be exposed. With His amazing grace, God will see it all and say, "Yep, you are guilty. But the price has been paid."

That same price was paid for every man who will accept it.

Lord, help me to never judge the actions of a brother, for it only reveals my spiritual pride. You know the truth. I have no right to be proud. I can only be grateful. Thank You, Jesus, for not judging me - for loving me - for dying for me. Give me Your strength today.

October 20, 2004

Defying Reason

May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

Joy, peace, and hope - these three things seem to defy all reason, and they have probably been sought by every man who ever lived. Interestingly, I feel these are quite possibly the very keys to the Christian life. If an individual can grasp the concept of them on a deeply spiritual level and understand how Christ makes them possible, it's hard to believe that one could reject the salvation God offers.

So what are they? What do I really mean by this? Consider what they represent spiritually and how they are the complete antithesis of the world. Consider how trusting in God makes them reality.

What is joy? It is a deep contentment that is ever-present despite the circumstances of life. It defies reason. The world defines it as happiness. The world believes that circumstances can be manipulated in order to find it. God promises that by following His Son, you will find it regardless of circumstance.

What is peace? It is a deep sense of calm that surpasses all understanding. It defies reason. The world defines it as the absence of turmoil or hostility. The world believes that it must be obtained by defeating your enemies. God promises that by trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit, you will experience a calmness of heart in the strongest of storms.

What is hope? It is the belief that despite anything that might happen in life, a brighter day is on the horizon. It defies reason. The world defines it as wishful thinking. The world believes that by working hard enough, by doing all we can, that wishes can come true. In truth, the world has no concept of it; the only future the world can see is death. God promises more than what we see on this earth. Jesus is the gate. Jesus is the path. Through Him we have life eternal.

The amazing truth is: all of these are available for those who trust in Him!

Lord, sometimes I don't get it. Sometimes, despite how hard I try - joy, peace, and hope seem to escape me. How does this happen? When I honestly consider it, I realize that these fade when I haven't put my trust in You. When I trust myself, when I trust the world, despair is often the result.

Help me, Lord, to trust in You fully. Help me to discover what is missing - to discover what I have always been seeking and have never been able to find. Make me a whole man - completed by You in every way.

October 21, 2004

Smooth Talk

For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of the naive. Romans 16:18

Despite all the things I know from this world - some of which I wish I had never learned - I am in actuality a very naive man. I can be easily deceived by the smooth talk and flattery of the enemy. That lost little boy inside of me is still searching. On the other hand, the man I am must daily ask the question: Am I serving Christ, or am I serving my own appetites?

How will people remember me? As a smooth talker? Or as a naive follower who would follow anything that promises to feed the emptiness in my soul?

Lord, there is void that I am struggling to identify. Why do I feel so alone when so many people have been placed in my life? Why am I so empty when You have done so much to fill me? Fill the emptiness, Father. I have yet to give it a name, but You know what it is. You were there when it was formed. It broke Your heart to see it. Help me to open my heart to the healing power of Your Spirit.

October 22, 2004

Another Way

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. Psalm 1:6

If we were all completely honest, what is it that most of us want in life? I believe the answer boils down to one word: PLEASURE.

Even the most melancholy of individuals wants to enjoy life. Oftentimes, a strange delight can be found in the sadness. Depression - despite how painful it can be - provides a sense of comfort; at least it is something familiar.

Eventually, we lose the sense of satisfaction that may have been discovered, and the search continues for that new source of fulfillment - for that next fix - for that pleasure. Once we find it, we might be pleased for a moment. But again, even it will fade.

There is another way.

Seeking the Lord brings satisfaction that lasts far beyond this lifetime. Meditating on His Word and striving continually to hear His voice open the door to pleasures untold, for when we seek to know Him we experience intimacy never known between two human beings. We come to understand that we are truly known by Him - that He knew us before the very foundations of the earth were laid. He longs to be intimately involved in the journey. He watches over every step we might take.

Lord, I have been on a journey. Sometimes, I have gone my own way. Other times, I have followed Your way. Your way is always best. No matter the pleasure I may find on my own paths, it always seems to perish in my hands. Help me, Lord, for I have embarked on a new path. For possibly the first time, I am starting to see beyond the horizon. There is so much in store. Let my greatest delight come from knowing You.

October 23, 2004

Where's Dad?

I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father." Psalm 2:7

What happened? Once a godly place, our nation has been overrun with crime, addiction, and turmoil. Integrity and character were once the mark of a strong man, yet we live in a time when even a president is considered weak because he puts his faith in God. How could this have happened?

All you need to do is to take a look around. Before long, the answer will be clear. Before long, you will be asking yourself a question.

Where have all the fathers gone?

So many boys are tossed about searching for him. So many men are struggling with life due to the loss of him. Without fathers, a nation is coming to ruin.

I think my own father was lost long before I was born. His father, too, somehow disappeared along the way. Most of us might admit - the man who lived in the house wasn't really a father. He was a little boy in the body of a man overwhelmed with responsibility. He never really grew up. His dad wasn't there to help him, so how could he become a man?

Little boys weren't meant to be fathers. Little boys were meant to be sons.

But there is hope. There is One who calls out to us, "You are my son! I have become your Father." He will help us. He will fill the void.

Lord, You are Father to the fatherless. You are my Father. You are showing me ways to heal - ways to grow - ways to become the father my son needs to see. Pour Yourself into me. I never want my children to stand next to me and wonder, "Where's Dad?"

October 24, 2004

A Shield Around Me

But you are a shield around me, O Lord; you bestow glory on me and lift up my head. Psalm 3:3

I am my own worst enemy. Somehow along the way, I learned that in order to be of any value, perfection is required. This continual struggle with perfectionism is deeply rooted in my attempts to be noticed - in my attempts to no longer be the invisible man in the room.

Unfortunately, there is another lesson that has plagued me. After all this time, after recognizing God's protection and love, I am still afraid. The lesson I learned - right or wrong - is that safety is an illusion - that even the hand of God cannot keep me safe. I somehow believed the enemy's words. This lie, more than any other, has probably been my greatest hindrance. Since I was a child, voices have taunted me making me hide in fear.

Interestingly, there is one voice I hear most clearly as he cries out: "God will not deliver you!" This voice hasn't been that of a stranger. It has been my own.

Lord, You are a shield around me. Help me to see this truth with new clarity. Restore the years that have been stolen by fear. Help me to relearn this lesson from childhood. In Your miraculous mercy, help the little boy I was to no longer cower in fear. Give him eyes to see Your protecting hand, so the man I am can face the future with confidence. Protect me, Father. Shield me from things that harm. Lift up my head. Lift up my downcast soul, so You will be glorified.

October 25, 2004

No Safer Place

I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8

Why does sleep so often elude me? Why is my spirit in such turmoil? Will I ever feel completely safe? Will I ever be whole? Or will I live out my life in brokenness?

Lord, You offer safety, and I almost run from it. You offer wholeness and healing - true peace and contentment, and I seem to push them away.

There are times, Spirit, when You awaken me. You call to me in the darkness of night. Some of our greatest moments have been in the early hours of the morning. Yet there have been many times that the turmoil of my heart keeps me from sleep. Which has it been lately? Are you trying to get my attention? Or am I overwhelmed with worry?

Father, I confess that my own stubborn heart has kept me from becoming the man You have called me to be. The things I hate, I do. The things I do, I shouldn't be doing. Will I ever let go? Will I ever completely surrender? Will I ever sleep in peace? You alone provide the safe place. Help me to seek Your face. Bring me into Your presence. There is no safer place than in Your arms.

October 26, 2004

Expectation

In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. Psalm 5:3

Waiting in expectation... How exciting that sounds.

Do you remember when you were a child, and Christmas was coming, or your birthday was around the corner? It was always so exciting - the anticipation - seeing wrapped boxes that contained childhood dreams.

That same expectation - that same excitement is how we can wait upon the Lord. He loves to give us gifts! By seeking His will, walking in His will, and asking for His blessing, there isn't anything we could want that He won't give.

Lord, I too often forget to wait in expectation. I am too easily discouraged by waiting. Change my heart. Help me to see that Your best is yet to come. Give me hope and a future. Help me walk in Your way.

October 27, 2004

Unfailing

Turn, O Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. Psalm 6:4

What would happen if God's love were to ever fail?

I believe there would be absolutely no hope for any of us. Nothing I do or don't do will ever make me worthy enough, for my actions do not always reflect the man God has called me to be. Only perfection would make me worthy. It is only by His action - by His grace - by His perfection - that I am made worthy.

Thankfully, His love is unfailing. Every time I look in the mirror, what I see is less than perfect. The truest reflection of His love that I will ever see is the gift of salvation - the gift of His Son.

Lord, help me to always remember that my worthiness is not contingent on my action. My happiness... yes. My worthiness... no. Doing the right things sure makes life a lot easier, but doing them does not determine Your love and forgiveness. You will always love. You will always forgive. Even Your wrath is based in love. Without it, we would destroy ourselves.

Rescue me, Lord. Not because I'm such a great person, but because You are such a great God. May You be glorified today.

October 28, 2004

Of My Own Making

He who digs a hole and scoops it out falls into the pit he has made. Psalm 7:15

Most of the trouble I experience is trouble of my own making. Comments made without much thought have either embarrassed me or have later been used against me. Decisions made to stay in a place I shouldn't be, or to return there, have opened the door to the darkest of dungeons. Temptations that were not rebuked the moment they surfaced - that were nursed in the recesses of my mind - pulled me into sin that resulted in years of secrecy and pain.

Lord, forgive me. The deepest of pits into which I have fallen have been formed by my own hands. Help me to see that Your grace can fill any pit; Your grace can erase any sin - especially those of my own making. Fill me with Your Spirit today.

October 29, 2004

On His Mind

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:3-4

How could it be that I am forever on God's mind? Why would He even care about me? It seems He has more important things to do, but not a moment goes by that He doesn't think of me.

I sure don't deserve His attention; no man deserves it. Yet that is what He does. That is who He is. Every moment of every day, He is thinking of every man who will ever be conceived. He knew each of us by name before the earth was formed. Since He is eternal, there has never been a time when He wasn't thinking of us; there has never been a time when He was thinking of me.

When I consider how amazing it is that God has a personal interest in every human being, He seems unreal. How could it be possible? How could any One being be intimately involved and concerned with billions of people - not to mention the billions of stars, plants, trees, and animals that are a part of His creation? How could One so enormous be so small?

Lord, You really are amazing. You are deserving of all glory and honor. My mind cannot begin to perceive Your greatness. One so great as You could choose anyone, and You chose me. I guess if the God of the universe could choose me, I must be worth something after all.

Father, where did this low opinion of myself come from? Why should I ever care about what others might think when You think enough of me to send Your Son? Help me, Lord, to give You the glory. Help me to remember that I am but a man. And help me to understand that You don't make junk. I long to follow You.

How majestic is Your name in all the earth!

October 30, 2004

Forsaken

Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10

How many of us can say we understand what it is like to be forsaken, to be neglected, to be abandoned?

I have a friend who can be a little absent-minded. His daughter likes to remind him of the time he unintentionally left her at a gas station. It wasn't until he arrived at home and saw the look on his wife's face that he realized what he had done. Somehow, I don't think I would let him forget it either.

I don't recall having a similar experience myself. Even with a large family and many trips in separate vehicles, I was never left behind. I know it is possible; when my sister was about five, we once made it to church without her. But abandonment is not always physical.

Unfortunately, the emotional abandonment I experienced as a child laid a foundation for years of confusion - years of pain - years of trying to measure up. Oh, I know my parents tried, but they really didn't know how to overcome their own memories of physical and emotional abandonment.

Lord, Your Word says You have never forsaken anyone who seeks You. Even so, why are there times that I feel abandoned by You? Within these words - within this truth, I can find the answer... "those who seek you." So many times, I have stopped seeking. The abandonment is not by You.

It is by me.

O Father, forgive me for the times I have not sought You with my whole heart. Help me to find You again. Continue to help me as I seek to find myself again. Reveal Yourself to me. Reveal those things in me that keep me from You. I will trust in You and You alone.

October 31, 2004

The Greater Truth

You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed. Psalm 10:17-18a

Have you ever known someone who seems to crave oppression? Someone who always ends up as a victim? It sounds ridiculous. Who in their right mind would desire affliction?

No matter how outrageous it sounds, there is comfort in being a victim, for a victim is not responsible for the crime. Oh, he may have contributed to the circumstance. How many defense attorneys have tried to shift the blame: "If she hadn't been so provocatively dressed..."?

There is something about being oppressed that is almost addictive. When one lives life constantly falling down, there is little expectation for him to produce - to succeed - to lead the way. A weak man is rarely expected to guide the strong, so there is safety in weakness. How can you fail, if you never try? If you are never expected to lead?

O Lord, I have trusted You in weakness, but can I trust You in strength? I am so afraid of failure that I sometimes quit the race rather than losing it. If I show myself to be strong, if my wife sees me as a leader in our home, if my employer sees me as a leader at work... what will happen if I fail? I am afraid others will learn the truth: I am not strong; I am weak.

But there is a greater truth: I am weak; You are strong.

Father, help me to stop being a victim. Help me to grab hold of life. Help me to understand that it isn't about my success or failure; it is about Your glory. If I fail, others can be encouraged by the way You bring about success. Fill me with joy. Fill me with strength. Help me to no longer desire affliction, but to desire You.

About October 2004

This page contains all entries posted to The Potter's Hand in October 2004. They are listed from oldest to newest.

September 2004 is the previous archive.

November 2004 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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