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May 2005 Archives

May 1, 2005

A Place to Rest

Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you. Psalm 116:7

There's something that all roller coasters have in common. No matter how high, how fast, or how long, every rollercoaster eventually stops back where it started.

Life is the same way. No matter how tumultuous it may seem, eventually we find ourselves back in that same place of peace - that is, if we have ever been there.

The only true source of peace is the arms of Jesus. If one has never been there, it is impossible to understand real peace and rest. But for those who know Him personally, there is no other place where the soul can find rest.

Jesus, take me back to the beginning - to that place of rest in Your arms. I'm tired of roller coasters. Can we ride the merry-go-round for awhile?

May 2, 2005

Proclaim It!

I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. Psalm 118:17

Which will I choose? Death or life? Would anyone notice my choice?

Yesterday was a strange day. Everywhere I went, it felt like I was on the outside looking in. Like a ghost trapped on this side of death, I seemed to be wandering unseen among the living. Oh, there were a few who noticed me, so I must have been alive. Yet something was different? Why did I feel so invisible? Was it them? Or was it me?

I know the answer.

It was me.

Nothing anyone did made me disappear. I simply wasn't there. If I had been, others might have heard what the Lord is doing in my life. In recent months, He has done so much. But when faced with those I should have told, I froze. The words could not come out of my mouth because... in truth, I don't know if I believe it. How can I proclaim life, when I don't believe I am alive?

Someone close to me recently expressed concern that I would eventually leave - not physically but emotionally. Is this concern valid? From past experience, I would say it is. But the past is gone. The dead man I once was is no longer.

I need to start proclaiming the truth: I am alive. Only by the grace of God - I am alive!

Lord, forgive my unbelief. Forgive my silence. Help me to proclaim the work You have accomplished in me. Help me to believe it is real.

Bring me back to life.

May 4, 2005

Uncatchable Righteousness

Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands. Psalm 119:5-6

If I were a Jew in the time of Jesus, I'm sure I would have been a Pharisee. In their own strength, they chased righteousness. But there is no one who can consider all God's commands without feeling a bit ashamed. Truly, our hearts deceive us to think we can do it without Him. Every man has fallen short of God's glory.

So why do I keep feeling like I have to do all the work?

Lord, I want to start a recovery group. It will be called "Perfectionists Anonymous." The only problem is that anyone who showed up for meetings would probably complain because the group didn't live up to his own vision of perfection. And worse, the group's motto would probably be, "I did it my way!" No one would stick around for long.

The sad thing is... This describes many churches in America today.

Father, open our eyes to Your grace. Your decrees are precious, yet on our own, they are completely unattainable. Chasing the righteousness that comes with the law will run us in circles; it can never be caught. Our only hope is Jesus. The world needs to know that. Help us to be accepting as You are accepting. Forgive us as we fall short.

Make me more like You.

May 8, 2005

Hidden Things

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

What things do we hide? And why do we hide them?

Like anyone, I've always hidden things I don't want others to see. As a child, I might have hidden special treasures - little touchstones, reminders of something I enjoyed. As I grew older, I might have hidden things that would have been embarrassing for others to see - little fantasies, reminders of a sinful nature that was gaining strength and control in my life.

As I consider hidden things, I am convinced that God's way is nothing like man's. With Him, nothing is hidden. Anything that He would have us hide will be seen by everyone. His Word hidden in our hearts shines to the world. His Spirit, who lives unseen in the hearts of those who love Him, is reflected in everyday words and actions.

To my human mind this makes no sense! Hide something so it can be seen? This simply doesn't compute.

Lord, throughout my life I have hidden things in my heart that I shouldn't have. I have learned that secrets about sin - like sin itself - can lead to death... the death of dreams, the death of hope, the death of a future. Forgive me for keeping things hidden that should have been revealed. Forgive me for allowing them to erode the plans You have for me. Help me, Lord, to live an unhidden life. Hide things in me that will be seen by all. Hide things that will bring You glory.

May 10, 2005

The Right Advice

Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors. Psalm 119:24

I've always heard people say the Bible contains all the answers.

It is interesting, however, how most Christians will run to their friends for advice, they will listen to encouraging words on the radio, or they will read some new self-help book, but rarely do they open the very Word of God.

Lord, I'm tired. I know the answers are in Your Word, yet lately it has been a challenge to listen for them. The many tasks of life keep overwhelming me. I expect my lack of motivation lately is a result of my refusal to get out of bed - to meet You in the early morning. Help me, Spirit, to start my days listening for Your advice. Give me clarity of thought today.

May 11, 2005

Recounting the Journey

I recounted my ways and you answered me; teach me your decrees. Psalm 119:26

Most of life is about destinations.

When was the last time you left some place and didn't intend to get anywhere? Going for the sake of going isn't the norm. Even the likes of Forrest Gump, who went out for a run one day and simply kept going, eventually arrived at a destination - back home where he had started.

Every child has asked the questions, "Are we there yet? How much farther?" Normally our eyes are focused on how much farther we have to go before we will arrive at our destination. It isn't often we hear the question, "How far have we gone?"

However, it is sometimes important to ask that question because sooner or later we may be asking ourselves if the journey is worth the effort. Our weariness might cause us to quit, but recognizing how far we have traveled, recounting the journey taken thus far, can bring renewed hope for reaching the destination.

Recovery is like that. So often it feels like you'll never get where you want to be. Remembering how far you have come - how much you have grown - is sometimes the only way to find the strength to put one foot in from of the other. Going back isn't an option - no matter how much longer it is going to take.

Lord, help me to recount my ways. Help me to see how far I have traveled on this journey called life. The destination is in reach.

May 12, 2005

Which way does your heart face?

Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. Psalm 119:36-37

The direction of your eyes has a lot to do with the direction of your heart. If your heart is facing the Lord, the idols of this world are much less appealing.

We live in an age where men are visually assaulted thousands of times each day. There really isn't any place that is safe anymore. In the 1950's it was often joked that boys would peruse through National Geographic in hopes of seeing some indigenous, topless tribe. Today, hardcore images are merely clicks away. No longer does a man have to seek glimpses of flesh in places of darkness. All he must do is open his eyes and watch for it. One need not wait for long till the darkest desires and lusts can be seen - sometimes on a television screen - sometimes walking down the street.

Lord, what are we doing to our children? Entire generations have been bombarded with images that could make a sailor blush. Unfortunately, it seems blushing is a thing of the past. Help me to face my heart in Your direction, so my eyes can pass over those things that might desensitize me to the enemy's ways. Protect my son, so as a man he will be strong enough to walk in ways of righteousness.

May 13, 2005

Walk in Freedom

I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. Psalm 119:45

It amazes me how the enemy can fool us into believing we are not free. He somehow convinces us that there are invisible chains linking us to the sins that have held us for so long.

But we have a choice.

We may think we are held against our will - that we cannot be free from the enemy's snares - that we have no other choice, but the truth is: there are no chains around our wrists. Jesus broke them for all eternity on a hill called Calvary. We can choose to walk away.

Father, I am so tired of being dooped by the enemy. One day, I walk about in freedom. The next, I am imprisoned in guilt and shame of my own choosing. Forgive me for thinking less of You. Forgive me for thinking less of myself. Today, I choose freedom!

May 14, 2005

Suffering

My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. Psalm 119:50

This may sound strange, but I think I'm addicted to suffering. For so many years, I have lived in dark pits and lonely valleys, many of my own making. It was in these dark places that I could hide. In them, also, is where the Comforter met me. Whenever sadness and depression loomed, the Father sent help - a peace that passes all understanding.

Like a junkie surviving from one fix to the next, I longed for those times when the Spirit would come to cover me in the shelter of His wing. Somehow, I came to believe that suffering was the only way to experience the Presence.

But there is more to life than suffering. There is joy. There is faith. There is hope. There is perfect love. The enemy wants us to believe death is our only destination, but the Father created us for life. Jesus died, so we could live and live abundantly.

Lord, I am learning so much about really living, but it is still confusing at times. I don't know what it is to find peace in the good times. My heart is conditioned for suffering. This makes no sense, yet it makes perfect sense. It is through suffering that we find life. Save me from my addiction, Lord Jesus.

5/17/05 - I shared these words with a friend this morning - okay, it was my therapist, and he challenged me to reconsider. Am I really addicted to suffering? Or is it simply what I have always known? Is it merely an oddly comfortable place for me because it is familiar? The truth is: I hate suffering. More than my own suffering, I hate to see others suffer, and I would subject myself to great pain so others won't. Am I taking too much upon myself? Of course - that seems to be the norm for me.

Lord, help me to only live through the pains that belong to me. What joy am I keeping from others by not allowing them to grow through suffering? What joy am I keeping from myself? Jesus, thank You for suffering in my place.

May 15, 2005

Hasten to Obey

I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands. Psalm 119:60

When I am faced with the temptation to sin, do I quickly run from it? Or do I struggle for hours - or even days? Am I always quick to choose the right thing?

More often that I would like, I delay.

Lord, I confess that often I do not hasten to obey your commands. So many battles have been won, but still I find myself hesitating - contemplating whether I should follow You or the enemy. If only I could learn to make quick retreats or to immediately call for reinforcements, I might not find myself wounded as often. Help me to run to You.

May 17, 2005

Good Affliction

It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. Psalm 119:71

It is impossible to learn how to walk without falling down. When we open ourselves to growing the way God desires, afflictions will come, pain will be experienced, and failure will be realized. Yet we learn so much from the failures!

Lord, forgive my conscious choices to sin. I am learning more than I would like at times. I am still failing more than I would like at times. But things are different. Your grace makes sense. In some odd way, I am learning to let You love me - through me. I'm worth more than I've ever understood. Help me to walk in Your ways - no matter how many times I might fall.

May 18, 2005

Sometimes, His Love is Tough to See

May your unfailing love be my comfort, according to your promise to your servant. Psalm 119:76

There are times that God's unfailing love is tough to see. When the world encroaches - when bad things happen to good people, even if it is caused by their own choices, we are sometimes left wondering how a loving God could allow such things.

O Father, I am torn this morning. I know Your love never fails. I know You have a plan for Your children, but it's hard to see today. News from a friend has left me confused and angry. Positive for HIV... How could You allow this to happen? Yes, his choices were wrong. But how can You allow his family - his wife and children - to suffer such consequence? Pour out understanding. Pour out Your love. Give me the words to say.

May 19, 2005

When will you comfort me?

My eyes fail looking for your promise; I say, "When will you comfort me?" Psalm 119:82

The enemy knows just the right moment to attack - in the very moment we start to feel comfortable. In that moment, he knows that we are vulnerable. The more he can fool us into believing the Spirit's comfort isn't real, that it won't last, the easier it is to keep us trapped in our sin.

Lord, I am so uncomfortable tonight. Why is my spirit in such turmoil? This must be from the enemy. I feel like I am being attacked by a swarm of bees - so many thoughts, so much guilt, so much anxiety. I can't seem to shut it down; I need Your help. Don't let my eyes fail looking for Your promise.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! ...God made him who had not sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:17, 21

You have no power over me, Lucifer. Just as Jesus claimed the truth of the Word in the desert, I claim it tonight. I am a new creation. I am the righteousness of God.

Holy Spirit, comfort me. Quiet the storm. Help me to rest in the serenity of Your arms.

May 20, 2005

Boundless

To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless. Psalm 119:96

I believe in the inerrant Word of God - that every bit of Scripture is God-breathed. But this doesn't make sense. The psalmist says God's commands are "boundless." In the same sentence he states that perfection has limits. Aren't God's commands perfect? Don't they provide the boundaries within which we should live? What can it mean that God's commands are boundless?

To me, perfection is a target - a goal - the ultimate end. (And being a self-proclaimed perfectionist, only I know what it looks like.) It is something that, theoretically, can be reached. (Okay, I admit we are human, and it may not really be possible. But unfortunately, I keep trying to reach it.) To say that something is boundless, however, doesn't necessarily mean that boundaries do no exist. It may simply mean we can never reach those boundaries.

In essence, the psalmist seems to be saying perfection is a destination, and God's commands are the journey. We can never reach the edge. He is limitless. His truth is limitless. No matter how much we grow, there will always be room for more growth.

Lord, I acknowledge that too often I set the boundaries. My perfectionist's views and opinions seem to get in the way. Help me to understand that Your way is always greater than anything I could imagine. Help me to strive for Your limitless perfection. Help me to walk the journey hand-in-hand with Your Spirit. Come, Lord Jesus.

May 21, 2005

The Wrong Path

I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Psalm 119:104

There are few things worse than realizing you have taken the wrong path. All of a sudden the scenery might not look familiar. The signs along the way might display the distance to cities you don't recognize. Before long, a choice must be made. Do you keep going in hopes of finding someone who can give you directions to where you were going? Or do you turn back to hopefully discover where you missed the right exit?

Lord, for someone who doesn't like to go the wrong way, I sure do it a lot. Help me to trust the road map of Your Word. Help me to see the signs for the correct exits along the way. Help me to arrive where You intended. Thank You for Your unfailing love.

May 22, 2005

The Right Heritage

Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. Psalm 119:111

What kind of heritage do you have? Is it a proud one? Or is it something you hide? Do you come from a line of statesmen - preachers - physicians - military men? Or do you come from a line of hopeless failures - men who struggled with life - whose children rarely speak much of them after they are gone? Unfortunately, too many of us have been left a heritage that is less than ideal.

The truth is: a heritage is not important. God can change the course of future generations through the words and actions of one man. Too often, however, what we are given by those who come before us impedes who we are today. It alters the choices we make. It distorts our belief in who we really are - about who God intended us to be.

Sadly, the heritage that harms us the greatest is given by those who should believe in us the most. The words and actions of our parents may instill hope, or they may bring despair. How many of us have heard the words, "You are a disappointment to me"? How many of us live up to low expectations, rather than rising above them? When will we learn that the only heritage that is truly important comes from our Heavenly Father. His Word - His action - is our heritage. He believes in us. How can we do any less?

Father, I want my heritage to be found in You. I want to pass along a heritage of godliness to my children and grandchildren. I want them to someday look back and see how the course was changed. Forgive me for the wrong words I say to my children. Help me to always guide them to You.

May 23, 2005

Double-Hearted

I hate double-minded men, but I love your law. Psalm 119:113

Normally, the character traits that bother me the most in other people are the very things with which I struggle.

One thing I have little tolerance for is hypocrisy. I am not very patient with those who are double-minded - living two lives, one seen and one unseen. For so many years, that was my life. The wicked desires of my heart were so often hidden by a veneer of good works. Most would have been shocked if they knew what I would do when no one was looking - much less what I was thinking most the time.

I believe we all deal with this battle at some point in life, for secrecy is one of the enemy's greatest strategies. It appears as a friend promising safety and protection, holding keys in one hand and a sword in the other. With the keys, he opens the door to hidden places, worlds of fantasy and pleasure. Yet the sword in his other hand is not meant for our protection. When the moment is right, he swings the blade, cutting your heart in two. Oddly, both sides continue to beat. Somehow we learn to live with two hearts - with two minds.

Lord, I can't live the double life anymore. Since I cannot continue to hide, there seem to be only two options - to embrace the darkness or to run to the light. The ways of the enemy, the ways of darkness, only lead to death. Your way always leads to life. Mend my heart, so I might live freely in the light. Give me a single mind - a single heart. Let others see the man You intended. Continue to make me anew.

May 24, 2005

Deal with it!

Deal with your servant according to your love and teach me your decrees. Psalm 119:124

How often do you hear the phrase, "Deal with it!"? Generally, this is heard along with phrases like, "Suck it up! Be a man! Grit your teeth and bear it!"

There is nothing better than being dealt with - being made - being re-made by the loving hand of God. However, simply because it is the best thing doesn't mean it is always pleasant. Sometimes, love hurts. It requires that one give his whole heart - his entire being to another. It requires complete sacrifice.

Lord, deal with me carefully. I am afraid of love sometimes because it may require more of me than I can handle. Help me to love the way You do. Fill me with compassion. Open the doors for me to touch the lives of others.

May 25, 2005

What rules over me?

Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. Psalm 119:133

What rules over me? Is it passion for life? Is it a love for Jesus? For other people? Or is it my sin - keeping me trapped in places of darkness, fear, and shame?

Lord, I know what it is to be ruled by sin - to have every thought consumed with overwhelming, addictive desire - to be plagued with an insatiable thirst for escape and pleasure. How can I break free when the enemy grabs hold? You are mo only salvation. Only You can free me from the rule of the enemy. Come to save me when You hear my cries. Be my Ruler today.

May 26, 2005

Tested Promises

Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them. Psalm 119:140

No matter how they are tested, God's promises are always proven to be the real deal. Like 24 karat gold, God's promises are pure; not a single impurity can be found in them. If He said it - if He raised His right hand to take an oath - it is going to happen. He would not be God otherwise.

Then why do I doubt?

Lord, too many times I don't believe Your promises are true. If I believed them, why do I so easily forget them? When I am in a pinch - when the enemy seems to be winning the battle, do I trust You will rush to save me? Or do I try to fight alone? Or worse, do I surrender to him? Open my eyes to see the promises in Your Word. Open my heart to receive them. Give me the confidence to proclaim them. I love You, Lord.

May 28, 2005

Remember, God is Near

Yet you are near, O Lord, and all your commands are true. Psalm 119:151

Life would be a lot easier if we could remember that God is always near. All our anxieties, worries, temptations, and fear would appear tiny compared to Him. And choosing sin over righteousness would be that easy if we were ever-mindful of His presence.

Lord, sometimes I seem to forget about You. Somehow, I find myself in a place where I am the only god that exists. I know this sounds arrogant, but unfortunately it is true. For a moment, the enemy's lies about being like You seem to be attainable. It is in this place that I lose control. Depression and darkness are my closest companions in this place.

Help me to remember You are near.

May 29, 2005

Remembering the Law

Look upon my suffering and deliver me, for I have not forgotten your law. Psalm 119:153

Can remembering the law be my deliverance?

Can upholding the law save me? Only if I could uphold it. And this is my downfall. I can never uphold it in my own strength.

The other day, a friend spoke to me of putting on the armor of God to protect us from the enemy. He was quick to point out that the armor is not "our" armor. It is God's armor. His armor is the only means we have to stand against the enemy.

The interesting thing is: nowhere in the list of God's armor can you find the law.

There is the belt of truth... Is truth the law? The law may be the truth, but the truth is not only contained in the law. Without Jesus - without God's grace, the law is incomplete. He came to fulfill it. It the law was the only component of truth, it could not be completed.

There is the breastplate of righteousness... Is righteousness the law? I prove everyday that righteousness cannot be attained by following the law, because I simply can't do it. Christ is my only righteousness.

There is the gospel of peace that we are to wear as shoes on our feet... Is the gospel the law? The gospel is the true story of God becoming a man, dying because of my sin, and rising from the dead to reign in the lives of those who will follow. The gospel is all about grace.

There is the shield of faith... Is faith the law? In some ways, faith is the opposite of the law. Faith is about believing and living out the law. Without works - without following the law, faith is dead. These may go hand-in-hand, but the law alone cannot save us.

There is the helmet of salvation... Is salvation the law? Praise the Lord, it isn't! In the law, salvation is impossible, yet in Christ, we are saved.

Father, I haven't been wearing Your armor. I have been so caught up in trying to attain deliverance through following a set of rules I can never follow. Too often, I put on my armor, the only armor I have: to escape and to medicate. It will never protect me, for my armor doesn't deflect the enemy's arrows. In fact, it attracts them! Forgive me, Lord Jesus, for allowing the old man - the man I was - to come visit. Help me to send him away. He cannot deliver me. Only You are my Deliverer.

May 30, 2005

Falling Down

Great peace have they who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble. Psalm 119:165

I am so tired of falling down in this life. For months, it seems I can walk with the Lord, and the instant I divert my eyes or loosen my grip, the enemy trips me. If I am focused on His directions and on holding His hand, I will never end up face first on the ground. But if I look away, if I let go of Him, falling is a certainty.

His ways are the only paths upon which I cannot stumble.

Holy Spirit, I need Your help. Fill my heart with resolve to never look away from the Father's holy paths again. Give me the strength to hold the hand of Jesus, and when I am tired and weakened, never let go of me. Make me holy as You are holy.

May 31, 2005

To Deceive Oneself

I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands. Psalm 119:176

Too often, I seem to be asking the question, "How did I get here?" Like a little lamb, that may be very cute but very stupid, I chased a butterfly - something enticingly beautiful that caught my eye, and before I know it, I am in dangerous places where the wolves roam freely. I find myself alone - far from the protection of the flock.

Interestingly, the word "strayed" in the Hebrew is also translated to mean "to deceive oneself." I believe that many times when I am lost, it has very little to do with ignorance and a great deal to do with deception. Either by myself or by the enemy, I have been deceived into believing I am in complete control. With this kind of thinking, I easily wander into these dangerous pastures with full knowledge and (I might add) an inflated sense of my ability to fight the enemy.

Lord, forgive me for believing the lies. I can't do it without You. I am powerless to fight the wolves who would harm me. Why do I choose to walk among them? Help me to put my trust in Your Word. Help me to distinguish the lies from the truth. Help me to stay near. Protect me from the darkness. Protect me from myself.

It's Time to Surrender

Have you ever thought the great men of the Bible were nothing like us? Today, I think I understand them a little better.

Whenever a man heard God speak, what was his reaction? Did he jump for joy, full of excitement that the God of the universe had chosen to speak to him? If you study the Word closely enough, one thing stands out as a common reaction when God speaks.

Fear.

For a very long time, people have told me that God is calling me to something. My greatest challenge is: I can't see what everyone else seems to see. All I see is a man who continually struggles with his self-worth, a man who is obsessed with the opinions of others, a man who fails more than he succeeds - and I succeed quite a bit.

I may not be able to see very clearly, but this morning... I heard. Four words. "It's time to surrender." I heard them while listening to a friend affirm me by sharing a vision of God's plan for my future. Immediately after God spoke, I knew it was real. My reaction wasn't joy. It wasn't excitement that God had finally spoken. All I felt was... fear.

I'm amazed at what I said after that. Trying to explain what I had just heard, the words that came from my mouth were not mine. "In order for me to be fully in the Lord's will, it requires for me to surrender - not to achieve." What difficult words for a self-acclaimed perfectionist to hear!

Lord, continue to bring clarity to my understanding. Brave men are not fearless. They are willing to give everything they have. Help me to give it all. Help me to surrender.

About May 2005

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

April 2005 is the previous archive.

June 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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