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April 2005 Archives

April 1, 2005

Thrown Aside

... for you have taken me up and thrown me aside. Psalm 102:10b

Oh, how our hearts deceive us. How many times, like the psalmist, have I felt that God has merely thrown me aside?

Has He ever really done this? Of course not. Even in the most estranged relationships, a parent cannot completely toss aside a child. I believe despite the appearances, a parent will ache for a child, even if he doesn't see him. And God loves His children more than we could ever imagine. He would not be Himself if He could simply discard us. In truth, He is always there with His arms outstretched, waiting for our return.

Lord, defeat the lies that I have believed - that You have thrown me aside because of my sin. Continue to hold me near to Your chest. Let me heart Your very heart beat today.

April 4, 2005

A World Traveler

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:11-12

It's a long way from West Texas to China.

This is how far my sin is when I received salvation through the blood of Christ. So why do I so easily make the trip to find it again?

As far the east is from the west, all our sin - all our rebellion - has been removed from us; this is God's promise.

Lord, so many times I have made the journey to either pick up my rebellion or to find the guilt of my sin. I have become a world traveler and didn't even know it. Help me to walk in Your forgiveness. Help me to live in the freedom of righteousness. Help me to receive Your great love today.

April 5, 2005

Treats Are Waiting

When you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. Psalm 104:28b

I think every grandparent jokes about buying the grandkids a pony.

When my children were young, my wife's parents didn't only joke about it; they did it. It was a lifelong dream to own a little place where they could go to get away from the noise of the city. Having grandchildren seemed to be the final encouragement they needed; they bought twenty acres of land outside of town.

The first task my father-in-law tackled was building a barn. He knew it would be a necessity, for to them, there was nothing more satisfying than seeing their grandkids light up around farm animals. Eventually, that barn housed two ponies, four or five cows, a hog, a mule, too many goats to count, quite a few chickens, and a couple roosters. (My daughter didn't like the roosters very much. She was glad when one of them lost a fight with the dog. He wouldn't be around to peck at her anymore.) There was even a corn snake that took up residence in the barn. (I was the one who didn't like him very much. Although he did a good job at keeping the mice away, I wasn't at all unhappy when he frightened my daughter and my father-in-law decided it needed to go.)

One of the lessons I remember about this time of life was the joy, and sometimes the frustration, that comes with tending livestock. Another lesson I learned was about feeding an animal by hand. An open hand sure gets their attention. Apples, carrots, grain - whatever it is, an open hand means treats are waiting. The most important lesson was that an open hand also keeps your fingers from being bitten!

In Psalm 104, the psalmist paints a beautiful picture of God caring for all the creatures on earth. With an open hand, He satisfies them with good things.

This same open hand is extended to us.

Lord, why am I never satisfied? It seems even Your open hand isn't enough sometimes. I seem to expect more - more from everyone else, more from You, more from myself. Teach me to be content. Teach me to be satisfied with the good things you give. Help me to learn that Your open hand means treats are waiting.

Thank You for all You have given me.

April 6, 2005

Reminders

Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced. Psalm 105:5

The Israelites are reminded so many times in the Bible about their history. Throughout Scripture, story after story is told of how God brought them out of Egypt, how He cared for them in the desert, and how He gave them the land that was promised to Abraham.

Even with all these reminders, His chosen people still fell away at times.

Lord, help me to no longer fall away from You. Help me to remember the works of Your hands. Through Your amazing grace, I have been rescued from the pit. The weight of the shackles forged by my sin has been lifted; I no longer carry them. But I am still afraid. Will I forget? Will I find myself lost and alone again? Continue to make me new. Let me see reminders of Your plan. Bring me into the land which has been promised. Bring glory to Your Name.

April 8, 2005

Don't Do It Alone

Many times he delivered them, but they were bent on rebellion and they wasted away in their sin. Psalm 106:43

How am I going to do it? How am I going to keep from wasting away in my sin? So many times, I have believed God's promises and soon forgotten them. Like every man before me, I am bent on rebellion, and the battle with my human nature rages on.

I will soon be 43-years old. It is tough to believe; I am middle-aged. How did I make it this far? In my younger days, I never thought I would live past 40. Despite the image I wanted to portray, I never saw much hope. Thankfully, my outlook is changing. It has taken me a long time, but I'm finally starting to see God's method to all my madness.

But how am I going to do it? Barring any unforeseen detours on the road of life, I have half my life yet to live. How will I make it another 40-years without really messing up?

Well, I can tell you how I can't.

I can't do it alone. Like any daunting task, it takes help. To successfully finish this race, it will take others working and walking alongside.

At my office, we are facing an enormous task. Construction has begun on a new facility that will house a variety of medical clinics. The idea of moving six different clinical operations into a new four-story building is completely overwhelming, even if it is over two years away.

Yesterday, my supervisor commented in a planning meeting that there is too much for one person to manage. It will take others stepping up to take responsibility. To successfully complete this endeavor, it will take others working and walking alongside.

This is our only hope. We need others beside us, encouraging, helping, sometimes standing in the breach. Without the help of those around me. I will waste away in my sin.

Do you understand how wonderful life is in these end times? Jesus gave us salvation. He sent the Holy Spirit. He established His Body, the church, so we would not face life alone.

Lord, I'm tired of living my life like I'm alone. Thank You for giving me a hope and a future. The next half of my life seems to exciting. Give me the ability, the knowledge, and the chance to make a difference in the lives of those who are trying to do it alone. I want to stand in the breach. I want to see Your kingdom.

April 12, 2005

The Straight Way

He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle. Psalm 107:7

Wandering.

How many people are merely wandering through life?

Without God, every man wanders, for none of us know the way - the way to freedom, healing, and peace. But with Him, we need not wander. His way leads to all we have ever wanted.

An interesting point: His way is always shortest. It's basic geometry. What is the shortest distance between two points? A straight line.

By a straight way, God leads us to a place we can settle.

Lord, I'm tired of the desert wastelands. I'm tired of wandering without You. It seems I have spent my whole life walking on crooked paths. Thank You for Your unfailing love.

Help me to walk the straight way.

April 13, 2005

Worthless Help

Give us aid against the enemy, for the help of man is worthless. Psalm 108:12

There is an enemy who is common to each of us. He has been called many things since the beginning of time - Lucifer, Satan, the Prince of Darkness. These names immediately bring to mind pictures of the evil one, the one who hates us because we were created in God's image. He is the most envious of God's creations. He wants to be God, and we are reminders to him that he isn't and never will be. There isn't anything he wouldn't do to harm us.

Our only hope is Jesus Christ, the Son of God - God in human form - the Messiah.

Turning to man and his ways will never defeat the enemy. Only God is able to save us.

Lord, I know the truth, yet man's ways are sometimes all I depend upon to save myself. There was a time, not so very long ago, when the enemy was winning more than he was losing. Turning to man for help, escaping by means of the world's way, left me empty - afraid - lost in despair. Only the work of Your amazing grace has saved me. By Your feet, the enemy has been trampled. Your unfailing love is the source of all life. Help me to cry out to You.

The help of man is worthless.

April 19, 2005

"A" Solution

I fade away like an evening shadow... Psalm 109:23a

Have you ever felt like you are merely fading away? Like an evening shadow that is swallowed by darkness, you simply begin to disappear.

For much of my life, I've been afraid of fading. Like a bad actor trying to steal a scene, I've reached for the lime light because in the light, maybe I won't disappear. Yet anyone who has been in the lime light will tell you - it doesn't solve anything. The attention fades, and before long, you are invisible again.

I think I've found a solution - not "the" solution, but something that can counter the enemy's lies.

Get a dog.

Ever since I was a little boy, I've liked cats. A cat is independent. He is distant. He does his own thing. The whole world revolves around what he wants. Everything a cat does is about himself. He can be visible, or he can disappear; he simply doesn't care. Maybe that's why I've liked them.

But a dog never disappears, and better yet, he'll never let you disappear. The people around you might not notice when you seem to be fading like an evening shadow, but a dog always seems to be saying, "I still see you."

Lord, thank You for the reminder - I am not fading into the darkness. If I ever feel unnoticed, if I ever feel invisible, Your Spirit reminds me - even through the disruptions of "man's best friend" - that I am still here. Open my eyes to see those who are fading around me. Help me to remind them how visible they are. Help me to not be afraid of the shadows.

April 23, 2005

A Bubbling Brook

He will drink from a brook beside the way; therefore he will lift up his head. Psalm 110:7

What is so special about a brook?

Consider a long journey on a hot day. Consider making this journey with no water. How long would you last? The heat of the sun would quickly drive you to your knees.

But what would it be like if on this journey you stumbled across a bubbling brook? Would you bypass it? Would you simply step over it and say, "How beautiful the water is!"?

Of course not! From the very hand of God, a brook brings life to a thirsty, dying man.

Lord, I have spent so much time gazing at You. Like a thirsty man admiring the beauty of a brook, I have merely watched Your healing waters flow. I am so thirsty. Drive me to my knees. I need to drink deeply from the Water that can save me. Forgive me for venturing out alone. Help me to finish this journey. Refresh my soul with the brook that flows from Your throne.

April 25, 2005

Remembered Wonders

He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate. Psalm 111:4

Why do we so easily forget the Lord's wonders? He has saved us from so much - not only from eternal death but from untold trouble and pain in this life. Yet when we find ourselves in a slump, we struggle to see Him, and we feel like He was never there in the first place.

I think I understand why the Israelites needed the sacrifice. Without a constant reminder, man quickly forgets who he is - the very image of God.

But we have a gift. The very same Spirit who witnessed the formation of the earth - the One who saw us knit together in the womb - this Spirit has been given to us. He causes the wonders of the Lord to be remembered. He is worthy of all praise and honor. This, we mustn't forget.

Lord, I remember a ten-year old boy who, on this day in 1972, stepped into a pool of water to be baptized on a warm South Carolina evening. If he had know the pain that was coming, he would have been overwhelmed with fear. As a man, I look back, and although I see years of ridicule, of sadness, and of fear, I know You were there.

Why do I keep forgetting You, Lord?

Show me Your gracious compassion. Give me clarity of thought and understanding. Help me to remember how marvelous You are. Help me to remember Your works of yesterday, and help me to see them today.

April 26, 2005

A Doorway to Light

Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righteous man. Psalm 112:4

For the unrighteous, darkness only leads to more darkness. But for those who seek the Lord, darkness is a doorway to light. Darkness has been my friend for far too long. The darkness of sin, the darkness of depression, the darkness of a hopeless existence - how have I come to know these so well?

I guess it doesn't really matter. What matters is where I go from here. Will I return to the dark corridors that have kept me trapped in a maze of despair? Or will I push through in a new direction? Over the years, I have learned to follow the paths that lead further into the darkness. Yet even those paths brought me to places that sustained me. This is a point that many Christians don't understand. Even I struggle to understand. How can I keep returning to dark places when the light lies right outside the door?

Why wouldn't I?

Seriously, would I not return to the only source of satisfaction and gratification I have ever known? A mouse who lives in a maze will return to his source of food simply because he knows where it is.

Lord, it's normally easy to have compassion for someone who simply doesn't know any better. Why can't I give myself the same consideration? For years, my routes of escape were all I knew. It's time to forgive. It's time to follow a different map.

Jesus, help me to see the light. Help me to seek out the Source. Sustain me along the way. I want to know Your ways. I want to know You.

April 27, 2005

Ash Heaps

He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap. Psalm 113:7

Have you ever lived through a house fire? Praise the Lord, I never have, but I've been around quite a few.

The first one I remember was the home of a close friend. It was an old house, the kind with a wrap-around porch in the South Carolina woods. Unfortunately, it was equipped with old room furnaces, and one night the worst happened. I will never forget my friend's tears. It didn't make sense to me. This was something I had never seen, and it was almost exciting. It took me some time to realize - she had lost absolutely everything. This large home was literally gone. Not a wall was left standing.

Later in life, I witnessed similar devastation time and time again. As a Red Cross disaster services director, I stood in many homes damaged by fire. Some families needed nothing more than a few pairs of clothes and some groceries. While others experienced the worst like I remember seeing as a child.

Interestingly, the house that reminded me most of my friend's house was owned by a local firefighter. An electrical fire in a country home on a very windy day quickly leveled the entire structure. It seemed the only thing left was a concrete slab covered in a heap of ashes. No furniture, very few appliances, no kitchen counters - the fire was so hot it literally took everything. Seeing this redefined by understanding of what it is to be needy.

Thankfully, God lifts us up when we are just that needy. When absolutely everything is lost, when our fears have become reality, He is there. Lord, reach out to me. Lift me up from the emotional ash heap in which I have so often found myself. I need You.

April 28, 2005

Water in the Desert

Tremble, O earth at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, who turned the rock into a pool, the hard rock into springs of water. Psalm 114:7-8

Why do we worry about what we will eat or drink - what we will wear - or even how we are going to pay off our bills? God can send enough water in the desert to satisfy the thirst of a million Israelites. He can most certainly provide for us in this day and age.

Lord, children are so expensive! We live in a time when there is so much opportunity. How can we ever keep it balanced? The desire to see one's children take advantage of every growth opportunity doesn't always match the ability to pay for it. Help me to trust in You. Help me to no be resentful over the inequities of fatherhood. Send us water in the desert.

April 29, 2005

What We Worship

Those who make them will be like them, and so will those who trust in them. Psalm 115:8

We become like what we worship.

Think about it. A man who worships material things, like cars for instance, becomes pretty high maintenance. He consumes everything he is given, and eventually he will waste away in a cemetery like a car in a junkyard.

A man who worships pornography becomes as depraved as the images he watches. Like seeds that grow out of control, images planted in a man's mind can lead him places he never dreamed. Intrigue eventually becomes action that escalates to darkness and death. Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahlmer never realized that mere pictures were leading them on paths of depravity and murder.

A man who worships the praise of other men will become shallow and lonely. Friendships that are based on accolades and fun never go beneath the surface. Eventually, the plaques on the wall merely gather dust. One can find himself in a room of acquaintances and no real friends. No one really knows him, and he doesn't know anyone else. In truth, he is alone.

Lord, I want to be like You. Help me to focus my worship on Your Son, Jesus. While He walked the earth, He changed lives. He healed. He forgave. He sacrificed everything for others. He defines true servanthood and leadership. Help me to worship You today and everyday.

About April 2005

This page contains all entries posted to The Potter's Hand in April 2005. They are listed from oldest to newest.

March 2005 is the previous archive.

May 2005 is the next archive.

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

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