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June 2005 Archives

June 1, 2005

A Foreign Concept

Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. Psalm 120:6

A day will come when we will all live in peace.

No more wars. No more violence. No more deception. The Lord will reign, and all will honor Him. What a glorious day that will be!

Lord, so much of my life has been lived in turmoil. Peace is often a foreign concept, yet each day You teach those who are willing to learn. Thank You for teaching me. For a man who grew up in violence, peace is like a refreshing rain.

Make me a man of peace. Teach me more about Your love. Help me to be a man who others recognize as a peacemaker. When others see me, let them see You.

June 3, 2005

Time to Steer

The Lord watches over you - the Lord is your shade at your right hand. Psalm 121:5

A young driver will never get a license to drive a car if he doesn't take hold of the steering wheel. A student pilot will never get a license to fly if he doesn't take hold of the controls. Sooner or later, life will require that we grab hold and steer.

Does this mean we are completely in control? Are we someday pushed out of the boat to either sink or swim? God is our protection, even in - especially in - those times that He says, "Here, I want you to steer."

It's an age-old scene. Throughout history, every father has had a moment when he says, "Here, you take the reins - you take the wheel - I want you to drive." But would a father who asks this close his eyes to then take a nap? No! He would stay prepared to take hold the moment it appears his child might land in a ditch.

Lord, I feel like I have wrecked the car so many times that I am afraid to drive. Help me to see that You are nearby watching and protecting. Lately, I seem to be hearing Your voice so clearly. Your Spirit seems to be challenging me to not only follow, but to lead. You have been calling me to step up - to grab hold of my role as the spiritual leader in my home. I also sense a renewed calling to serve Your Body. Normally, this is an area where I freeze; I am too terrified to move. Yet I am starting to understand. All You require from me is surrender. It is not defeat. It is victory! Stay close, Father. Stay at my right hand. I will follow Your lead.

June 4, 2005

Peace and Security

May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels. Psalm 122:7

Peace and security... Where do we find them?

I believe that in a fallen world they do not exist. There is nowhere one can go to find them, and any place that promises them is lying. The only truth is that a fallen world will take everything you have.

Lord, I have a friend who believed the lies of the enemy. He believed that the world could satisfy the emptiness in his heart. Now, he is broken from the battle. I am afraid for his very life. Intervene in this situation, Father. Shine Your light of hope. Draw him back to the place of peace and security in Your arms. You are the only Source.

June 5, 2005

Misdirected Contempt

Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us, for we have endured much contempt. Psalm 123:3

What does one do when the contempt he endures comes, not from the outside, but from within? Experiencing the hatred of other people isn't easy, but to hate oneself is a burden that is nearly impossible to carry. Self-hatred can cause someone to sabotage every good thing that is sent his way.

In my life, like probably every man, sin has sabotaged what is best for me. I truly believe, however, that it is but a symptom of a deeper issue, a contempt for myself. Why should I fight temptation if I am not worth fighting for?

Once, a friend told me to face temptation by remembering how much I love my wife and kids, yet I have learned that no amount of love for someone else can save me from myself. To find the strength to stand against the enemy requires an inner strength - a strength that comes from loving myself - from allowing the Lord to love me. And since I know every flaw that makes me unlovable, loving myself is only possible with the help of the Holy Spirit.

God's greatest mercy is often seen in the ability to forgive myself for every past hurt - for every past wrong. Oh, I am not referring to a conceited love of self, but a forgiving compassion, something that I often find easier to give away rather than to keep.

Lord, have mercy on me. Help me to endure the contempt I so often hold for myself. Nothing I do could ever make You stop loving me. How can I think I know better than You? Thank You for loving me so much that You died for me. This is proof of my lovability - that the God of the universe would come to earth and die for me!

Use me, Father, how You choose. I love You.

June 6, 2005

Animal Lessons

We have escaped like a bird out of the fowler's snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped. Psalm 124:7

What does a trapped animal do the moment freedom becomes possible?

Does it linger? Does it decide to stay behind because the bait in the trap might satisfy its hunger? If it breaks free, does the animal return to the trap again? Does it visit the snare, saddened that it is no longer confined?

Animals tend to learn from bad situations. If an animal is trapped and freedom presents itself, it will do everything in its power to escape. And generally, once an animal breaks free, it will avoid the snare at all costs.

Oh, to be as smart as the animals! It is sometimes hard to believe that man is the crown of God's creation.

Human beings have been given the gifts of intelligence and reasoning, yet we still do stupid things. We find it difficult to break free from the enemy's snares, not because freedom isn't possible, but because we don't want to deny ourselves the bait. And if we break free, despite what we know, the temptation to return to confinement is so enticing. We find ourselves standing beside the snare, studying it, trying to determine how to snatch the bait without getting caught. How foolish to think, "This time, I won't get stuck in there."

Lord, every snare has been crushed by the sacrifice of Your Son. Why do I sometimes choose to stay confined? Why do I sometimes choose to stand beside the snare longing to be inside? Help me to flee from the enemy's confinement. Teach me to avoid it altogether. No matter how tempting the bait, keep me ever-mindful of the truth: You offer so much more!

Help me to learn from the animals.

June 7, 2005

Now!

As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore. Psalm 125:2

Both now and forevermore...

There are times that I think the church is so focused on life after death, that it does a disservice to life before it. Yes, Jesus died so we might have eternal life, but when does "eternal" start? For something to be truly eternal, it has no end - and no beginning. When we accept the gift of eternal life, we are grafted in - adopted into God's eternal family.

However, this doesn't happen when we die; it happens now. We may have to wait to walk the streets of heaven, but nothing says we cannot experience its joy. Our primary focus in heaven is to worship the Lamb - to bring honor to the One on the throne forevermore.

We can do that now!

Lord, heaven is the destination of all who love You, all who serve You, and all who accept Your salvation. The moment I received Your Son, I became a naturalized citizen of heaven. As a citizen, I no longer need to live like an alien.

The ways of the world are selfish. The ways of heaven are selfless.

The ways of the world are greedy. The ways of heaven are giving.

Make me like one of Your chosen children - not just forevermore - but now. Help me to walk in Your Spirit today.

June 8, 2005

A Farmer's Faith

He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him. Psalm 126:6

There is a saying that there are no atheists in foxholes. I believe it could also be said, "There are no atheists on the farm."

Oh, I'm not so naive to believe there are none, but for every drop of sweat in the field, my guess is there is probably a corresponding prayer in the bedroom. Farming is not an easy job. Oftentimes, it requires more faith than work. Great perseverance is needed to make it till harvest time.

Lord, to reap a harvest requires so much effort and so much prayer. Show me where to plant seeds of faith and hope for those who are hurting. Give me the perseverance to make it till harvest time. Give me the faith of a farmer. Let me carry sheaves with songs of joy in my mouth.

June 9, 2005

Ask the Builder

Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain... Psalm 127:1a

Nothing built by human hands will last. Only what the Lord builds can live beyond the limits of time.

So why do we spend so much time and effort trying to fix ourselves?

I believe God wants us to seek holiness, but all our efforts to attain righteousness won't build anything that we can carry with us into eternity. The only things we can bring into heaven are those which were built into us by the Holy Spirit. He does the work! He's waiting for us to ask Him. He won't intrude, and He will never deny.

Father, will You build into me eternal character that I can carry into heaven - that I can carry today? Thank You for making me the man I am.

June 10, 2005

Prosperity

You will eat of the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Psalm 128:2

Prosperity in and of itself is not evil. It's how we view it - how we pursue it - that causes problems. Material things have always been a sign of status, but having them or not having them has nothing to do with one's value. The value of a man is often determined by what he gives rather than what he keeps, but giving for the wrong reasons has its consequence as well.

One will never be satisfied by things.

God looks on the heart. He knows what a man worships. If he is seeking status through wealth or philanthropy, God knows. His insatiable desire for recognition will be dashed when one day he stands before the judgment seat and hears the devastating words, "I never knew you."

O Lord, we live in a time when it seems new definitions are given to the meaning of "fallen world." Technology, although a wonderful gift, has elevated man to places where he feels You are no longer necessary. There are few things that cannot be bought in this day.

I would never wish it again, but I learned many lessons about life and love through times of unemployment. There's something about complete dependence on You, Father, that helps us to reevaluate what is really important. The love of those dear to us is the greatest blessing of all.

Help me to hold nothing in my heart that I can hold in my hand. Let my heart overflow with love and compassion for Your children. Thank You, Lord, for Your amazing provision - for prosperity of character - for eternal and abundant life.

June 11, 2005

Can the darkness satisfy?

They have oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me. Psalm 129:2

The older I get, the more I realize certain struggles are simply going to be life-long. Does this mean there is no hope? If I am going to fail in a particular area until the day I die, wouldn't it be easier to simply accept it? Should I merely give in and proclaim, "This is who I am. Deal with it!"?

Someone will never be better off by letting the enemy win. A life of poverty lived in the light is far better than a life of plenty lived in darkness. In the light, one can find joy - a contentment with being alive regardless of circumstance. However, one who stays in darkness will discover more gloom with every new day.

Can the darkness be satisfying?

You bet!

The enemy knows we wouldn't want it if it didn't. But can a man find contentment in the darkness? Can he reach that place where he is no longer controlled by his cravings? A place where there is enough?

Nothing in the darkness can fully satisfy like the Father.

Lord, I would like to say I will pick the light over the darkness every time, but I don't think it is possible. As long as we breathe air into these bodies, we will be confined by them. Our flesh will win out on occasion; that is life! But losing one battle doesn't mean the war is lost. Every day is new. No darkness from yesterday can survive in the light of today. No matter how long I am oppressed, I will not concede. You are Victory. I surrender to You!

June 12, 2005

Waiting with Expectation

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. Psalm 130:5

There is a big difference between simply waiting and waiting with expectation. I spend a great deal of time waiting for the Lord, but am I expecting He will come? Or am I merely holding off in the pursuit of what I want, so I can say I waited for Him?

To wait with hope - to wait with expectation - is to believe something is going to occur. Unfortunately, I don't think I always believe He will appear. In my impatience, I seem to race ahead. I may have a clear sense of direction, but I won't get where He wants me without Him.

Lord, help me to wait with expectation. Meet me when I call. Walk with me. I believe You are coming.

June 13, 2005

Cut the Apron Strings

But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with it mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me. Psalm 131:2

What is it to be weaned? Weaning is a process of breaking free from complete dependence on someone or something. An animal or child is weaned when solid food can replace mother's milk. Although we don't readily think of it in this context, an addict is weaned when he no longer requires the comfort of his drug of choice. Weaning is all apart of growing - physically and spiritually. If we are going to stand as independent adults, we cannot remain tied to childish things. What's the saying? "Cut the apron strings."

Yet, the truest freedom of all comes, not from independence, but complete dependence... on God. Complete dependence on Him brings a peace to one's soul that literally sets him free from the burdens of this world.

Lord, make me like a weaned child - independent from those things that would keep me from growing, from becoming the godly man I am called to be. Yet in this process of weaning me from the world, make me completely dependent on You. It is only in Your arms that I am truly free.

Still and quiet my soul.

June 14, 2005

His Dwelling Place

For the Lord has chosen Zion, he has desired it for his dwelling. Psalm 132:13

Do we understand how amazing it is that the God of the universe has chosen to dwell in the hearts of His people? For centuries, He chose to reside in a temple. Oh, He wasn't confined to the temple. There is no place that He isn't. Even then, He filled the hearts of His chosen, just as He does today. But today - a time of new covenant, His primary dwelling place can no longer be seen on a hill but everywhere His people walk.

Now, we are His dwelling place.

Lord, dwell in me. Clothe me with righteousness and salvation. Send Your provision to satisfy the poor in spirit. Let Your people shine like a temple on a hill called Zion.

June 15, 2005

Like Dew Drops

It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion... Psalm 133:3a

There is something so peaceful about dripping dew or droplets of rain after a spring shower. So light and delicate, it is as if the drops float in mid-air before touching the ground. And when they land, it is like feathers, so soft and quiet.

To hear dew dropping... My, that is quite a peaceful picture.

That is what our unity is to the Father. When we pull together to live in peace and harmony, it is like listening to dew.

O Lord, if only we could live life in such a delicate fashion. Too often, we merely think of ourselves without consideration for others. Forgive our disunity. Bring peace where there is turmoil. Bring life where the enemy wants death. Make us one as You are One.

June 16, 2005

Who do you emulate?

Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them. Psalm 135:18

Life is a process of becoming.

Even in my forties I find myself asking the question, "What do I want to be when I grow up?" Sometimes, I struggle with a tougher question, "How will I know when I get there?"

More often, I should be asking the question, "How do I get there in the first place?"

It seems that too often we plod through life, not really paying attention, and before we know it, we have become something we didn't expect - maybe something we didn't want to be.

Consider. How does a boy become a man? He watches men. He emulates them. He strives to become one of them. Unfortunately, we live in a society that doesn't really understand this. It is a great responsibility to raise up a new generation of men, and too many have either ignored it or abused it. Look around. How many men do you know who really have it together? Not just what you see? But who they really are?

Lord, we become what we worship. We become what we emulate. I know I am not yet the man You want me to be. Help me to emulate Your Son.

I choose to worship You.

June 17, 2005

He Remembered

...to the One who remembered us in our low estate and freed us from our enemies... Psalm 136:24-25

Can it be true? That God really does remember us, despite how far we might have fallen in life, and He frees us from our enemies? How can I be convinced of it? How can I explain it to others?

Well, as far as explaining it to others, how can we truly explain anything about the deeper meanings in life? Can we definitively prove that God exists? Truthfully, we can't. His existence is something that must be experienced for someone to fully understand. It cannot be put in human words.

He just is!

I guess I should take the same approach to what He has done for me. Can I explain it? How do I know if I am truly free? The most important truth for any of us to realize in life is that God has a plan. We don't control it. We can't even prove it.

So, am I free?

YES!

How do I know?

I just do!

And the next time my biggest critic questions it, I need to say (to myself), "Get over it!" It's like explaining a rainbow. We can try to examine it, but the closer we get, the more it disappears.

Lord, help me to accept the truth. You have remembered me in my low estate, and You have freed me from my enemies!

You are amazing.

June 19, 2005

Demanded Songs

For there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!" Psalm 137:3

How are we ever fooled into believing the enemy? With his words he convinces us that no one can love us like he does. We buy what he has said since that awful day in the garden so long ago: "Try it; you'll like it! You, too, can be like God."

But in truth, we are nothing more than monkeys in a cage to him. Like slaves, he drives us during the day and expects songs of joy at night. Oh, there are pleasures. He knows that too many would escape if they knew the truth about him. He knows that if we saw him as he really is, he would lose us to the Emancipator. So he carries on the masquerade. He enters our days dressed in light, hiding the darkness underneath, and we too often accept his offer to dance.

Lord, protect me from the lies of the enemy. His aim is to enslave me. Yours is to save me. Through the sacrifice of Your Son, You have clothed me in righteousness. No longer do I want to dance and sing by the waters of foreign lands. You are my only hope. Free me, now and forevermore

June 20, 2005

He Sees Our Pride

Though the Lord is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar. Psalm 138:8

We sometimes think we can hide from the Lord, but He always knows the truth. For He doesn't only see what we do; He sees our hearts. No amount of good on the outside can keep Him from seeing the pride we have on the inside.

Lord, help me to be humble. So much of my life has seemed like an act. I am such an expert at wearing a mask, but I can never fool You. A day cannot pass without You seeing beneath the surface. With Your hands reshape me - with Your love restore me, so I no longer have to hide. Let the world see what You see. Make me holy.

June 21, 2005

Life is Hard!

See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:24

Why is the journey of life so difficult at times?

It seems that at every turn there is another fork in the road, another choice that either leads to a place of peace or a place of pain. And regardless of the outcome, it seems to take so much work! If only we could learn to see around the next corner.

How can we know what lies ahead?

Lord, there are so many times I wish I could back up to take another road - so many times I wish I had chosen the easy way. Your way leads to life eternal, but the path is sometimes tougher to walk than I expected. Help me to put one foot in front of the other. I'm getting weary.

Will You carry me for awhile?

June 22, 2005

An Upright Life

Surely the righteous will praise your name and the upright will live before you. Psalm 140:13

I've spent a great deal of time concerned about what others think. If only I could be as concerned about living an upright life before God. He sees every secret choice. He knows every time I am tempted to fall away. He rejoices when I stand firm. He weeps when I fail.

Lord, I'm struggling this morning. How should I respond to the lies of a friend? Normally, I am so concerned about how others perceive me. My response is usually to gloss it over - to quickly forgive - to move forward in hopes things will improve.

Who am I trying to impress?

Can I stand upright before You and know that I have enabled a friend to harm himself or his family? Can I merely sit back and watch as he wears a mask of righteousness and pursues worldly desires. Save my friend. Spare his life. Help him to someday praise You again and to live upright before You.

June 24, 2005

How Sweet It Is

Let not the heart be drawn to what is evil, to take part in wicked deeds with men who are evildoers; let me not eat of their delicacies. Psalm 141:4

The taste of evil... What is it like?

When I consider this question, my first thought is how horrible it must be. Think of it. The picture I have of evil comes from movies and books, a deformed monster covered in slime and smelling of sulfur. How many hunters would chase after this prize to feed his family and friends? Who in his right mind would consider something a delicacy if it smelled of rotten eggs?!

The truth is: evil is the sweetest of delicacies. Once a man acquires a taste for it, he will be drawn to it like a moth to a flame. And like the moth, one taste could be enough to kill him.

Lord, sometimes I long for the delicacies of my past. Too often I forget the months and years of pain caused by its poison. All I seem to remember is how sweet it was at first. The very thought of its taste awakens cravings I can no longer afford to fulfill, for nothing that fills me momentarily is worth the cost of my life. Help me to see evil as it truly is. Help me to acquire a taste for righteousness. The food from Your table is the sweetest of all.

June 25, 2005

Fainting Spells

When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who know my way. Psalm 142:3a

What is it to faint?

I can't recall a time when I fainted; although I may have come close a time or two. How many times over the years have I heard, "Don't lock your legs!"? With nine years in marching bands, four years in the military, and countless hours performing at weddings and receptions, I've had plenty of opportunity. Standing in place seems to be a part of my life. Fortunately, I have never hit the ground in front of a crowd. I'm sure losing consciousness can be terrifying - and awfully embarrassing.

To lose all bodily control, however... This any addict can understand. Regardless of the addiction, there is a common experience - someone seems to take control. It is very humbling when one comes to his senses and asks, "How did I end up here on the ground?"

Thankfully, the Lord never loses control. He always knows where I am. He always knows my way. He always catches me when I fall.

Father, where would I be without You? My spirit has fainted - even if my body hasn't. And You have always been here. Thank You for carrying me along the way. Without You I am lost. Without Your Son, we are all lost.

Save us! Catch us! We need Your mighty touch.

June 26, 2005

Hide-and-Seek

Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord, for I hide myself in you. Psalm 143:9

Who didn't love to play hide-and-seek as a child? To be hidden mere inches away from the one who is "it" and not be found - what a sense of power and achievement. Then to hear the words, "Ally, ally in come free!" - to know that you are a winner... How cool is that?

I think I've spent much of my life still playing the game. I think most men probably do. To know I am hidden mere inches away - that I can have secrets others don't know - seems to bring an odd sense of strength and success. The truth is, however, every man may hide to win, but deep inside he longs to be caught. He knows that the world rarely gives up the game. Hearing those words of freedom is rare, and no man wants to go through life alone.

Lord, I don't want to hide anymore. The hiding places I have chosen only lead to loneliness and despair. I want to be seen. I want to be caught. I want to be "it."

If I must hide, let it be in You.

June 27, 2005

Don't Look that Way!

O Lord, what is man that you care for him, the son of man that you think of him? Psalm 144:3

It's the age-old question. Why does God love us? We most certainly don't deserve it. We have all sinned and deserve death.

My pastor posed a question yesterday. How do you know who you really are? Where can you look to find out? When you look closely at yourself, you forget. But when you look to God, it becomes clear.

The answer to God's love for me has nothing to do with me! It has everything to do with Him.

So what is man?

Who cares?

Who is God? That's all that matters.

Lord, in You I find my identity. You are filled with so much love that my shortcomings seem to disappear. Forgive me for being distracted from You. Help me to focus my eyes on You today.

June 28, 2005

The Power of a Grandparent

One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your might acts. Psalm 145:4

Nothing brings hope like stories from a grandparent. There's something magical. Hearing tales of difficult times - times where there was great need and too little money - times when there was more love in the house than food... hearing of these times makes the troubles of today seem a little less significant.

Unfortunately, too many grandparents don't understand their power. I never really knew my grandparents. We moved quite a bit, but even living on the same property for three years didn't make the difference. Kids were a nuisance. Sometimes I wonder if life wouldn't have seemed so tough if I had known them better. Would I have struggled to love myself if I knew they loved me just because I was me? It might have helped counterbalance the rejection I felt from those closer to me.

Lord, I am not a nuisance. I missed out, but they did too. What an opportunity we have to bring hope to this world by sharing ourselves - with our children and eventually our grandchildren. I am still a few years away from being a grandfather, but it's never too early to ask for Your blessing, Father. Help me to someday bring hope to many children. Help me to nurture the relationships with my children, so I will always be welcome. Help me to commend Your works to a thousand generations.

June 29, 2005

The Sustainer

The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the way of the wicked. Psalm 146:9

It seems there have been generations of men in recent history who would consider themselves fatherless. For many, he may have been physically present but emotionally absent. Being a father is more than providing food, shelter, and clothing. It is about nurturing, encouraging, instilling hope in the future.

God is that kind of Father. He is Jehovah-Jireh, our Provider. He is Jehovah-Rohi, our Shepherd. He not only feeds and clothes, but He holds us close to protect us. He is El-Shaddai, the Almighty God and Sustainer. He sustains us like no earthly father can.

Lord, I never want my children to say I was absent. Make me a father who reflects You. Sustain me, so You might be glorified.

June 30, 2005

How to Impress Him

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Psalm 147:10-11

The measure of a man's success is not in the races he wins but in the character he displays; God knows this. He isn't impressed by anything we can accomplish. No feat of strength, no amount of speed can catch His eye like the heart of a man focused on Him. He finds such delight in the things man so often disregards.

Lord, I have wasted so much of myself worrying about worldly things, and none of them bring You delight like the hope I place in You. I spend far too much time focused on the negative side of life. Help me to see the good You pour on Your children. Help me to see the blessings in life so other might see them as well. Thank You for Your unfailing love.

About June 2005

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

May 2005 is the previous archive.

July 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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