Keep Looking Up

What powerful pictures and an even more powerful reminder of our faithful God!

I Sing Because I'm Free

Glorious Sunday morning in Keswick, VA

Sky of a thousand

shades of blue

How I long

to gaze at you

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Sea of azure

in the sky

Your wonder clouds

go swimming by

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Sky light, sky bright

always keeping 

Him in sight

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His glory shines

on everything

Oh, how Your beauty

makes me sing!

IMG_2487 Friday Night’s Sunset

Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O LORD, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things.  1 Chronicles 29:11

The day always goes much more smoothly when I look up.  The moment I allow my thoughts to go astray, nothing good comes from it. My mini van didn’t want to start this morning. Immediately, I began to panic. I detest car (or in my case, mini van) troubles.  I don’t know a thing about cars.  But isn’t it crazy that we can trust our cars to take us here…

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Faulty (human) reasoning

I thought this was a great summary of the way sin starts with just thought.

Mustard Seed Budget

faulty reasoningNicodemus can’t understand being “born again.” How can a man enter his mother’s womb and be “born again?” he asks.

Judas Iscariot reasoned that it was time to cash out on Jesus. He reasoned Jesus wasn’t going anywhere after all, and that he should make the most of three years of following the loser named Jesus.

Job’s friends reasoned against their friend. Instead of consoling him, they blamed him. You must have sinned because look at the proof: God’s not with you anymore.

The very same logical fallacies atheists accuse us of using, they too use! (When a pseudo-intellectual brandishes an exotic Latin fallacy, it tends to quiet the non-Latin speaker.)

As Christians, we too can “reason” ourselves out of the will of God. We can “reason” our way of out going to church, tithing, outreaching, our marriage, etc.

To avoid this pratfall, bathe your decisions in prayer. Make sure…

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Love Our Kids – The Wisdom From Above

James 3:17 NLT—But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.

The best wisdom doesn’t look anything like the world’s wisdom, does it? Everything around us shouts, “Me, me, what about me?” The wisdom from above asks,
“How can I serve you?”
“What is best for the whole, not just me?”
“What is right in God’s eyes, not mine?”
“How can I make a tough decision, but be gentle at the same time?”
“What do I need to give up (the small stuff) to show I am peace-loving?”
“What if I share more of my struggle to help you with yours?”

Tough stuff, but we also have the promise found earlier in the same book,

James 1:5 HCSB—Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him.

We have all that we need to live and work wisely today.

Morning Prayer

Boldly I come to you, Father.

You bid me in your Word to approach your throne.

In coming I recognize that

You are God and I am not;

You have wisdom that I only have through you;

You have power that I can only have through you;

You have strength that I can only have through you;

You have grace and mercy that I so desperately need.

Thank you for the blood of Christ that has made me able to enter your presence.

Help me to open my whole heart to more and more of you.

Thank you for meeting me here.

Amen.

So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.  Hebrews 4:16 NLT

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16  I pray that from his glorious, unlimited b resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.  17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.   18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.  19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.  20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.   21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.  Ephesians 3:14-21 NLT

Love Our Kids – Back to School

Colossians 1:11 We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy.

For most of you school is starting this week. It’s an exciting time…this is your calling! The summer has been great, but The Lord has another group of children to place in your care who need your unique giftedness.

Calling or not – it’s not easy.

You may have a challenging student – Ask The Lord to show you what makes them challenge you. Are they crying out for help?

You may have some challenging parents. Pray for the parents as much as you do the children.

You may have a challenging co-worker. Seek to understand their need.

Maybe your boss is a little irritating. What is the pressure on him/her for better results this year? Can you be a supporter rather than a back-biter?

God’s power can give you the wisdom and endurance you need…and JOY!

Love Our Kids: A Devo for Teachers – The Heritage called Children

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. (Psalms 127:3 NLT)

The word here is also translated “heritage.” I almost went a different direction after I checked that out.

Webster’s says a heritage can be “something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor : legacy, inheritance”

So, either way, that makes our responsibility toward them significant – even if they aren’t our biological children.

Think about the children in your life. Here are some that I thought of for me:
1. Biological children
2. Step-children
3. Grandchildren
4. Church children I teach
5. Church children who see me on the platform at church leading worship
6. Friends’ children who recognize/know me

If all of these children (even grown ones) are a heritage or gift from The Lord, then I must be on my guard at all times to be setting an example of His love for them.

Thank you, Lord, that you empower me to do this. Help me grab ahold of that power because I cannot do it on my own.

Love Our Kids: A Devo for Teachers – Loose Lips Sink Ships and Cause Other Troubles

I hardly spend time in my “paper” Bible any more. I am so thankful for the electronic options that allow me almost unlimited access to translations and commentaries. But today I was flipping through my Bible I’ve had since 1990 and reading some of the notes.

On one page in particular in Proverbs I had underlined four verses and three of them were about the trouble your mouth can bring you. For anyone who’s known me for a long time, it is probably not surprising that God has had and continues to have a lot of work to do on me in that area.

“A fool’s lips bring him strife and his mouth invites a beating.” Proverbs 6:18

In fact, my last spanking, at age 16, was for telling my Dad I shouldn’t have to get the milk at the supper table because my brother sat closer to the refrigerator. I’m such a slow learner!

Here I am at age 50+ still needing the Lord’s instruction on listening before answering (v 13) and the power of the tongue being life and death (v21).

Lord, help us to be gracious in all our responses today. There is some child, parent or co-worker who desperately needs a word from You today and I may be the only one they encounter who can give it to them.

Colossians 4:6 NLT – Let your a conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.

An update for my ‘bug fixes’

Almost every day there are updates to at least one app I have on my iPhone/iPad. And very often, if I look at the detail, the developer refers to “bug fixes” in the details of the update.

It seems to me that is exactly what our time in God’s Word is intended for. Of course, unlike an app, the developer didn’t make me with “bugs.” But my exposure to the world and my sinful nature allow “bugs” to creep in.

I can’t get my “bug fixes” if I’m not connected to the Internet. If I’m away from a tower or wireless signal, I can’t receive the updates. I must make the effort to get “connected” to God. If I don’t take time daily to study God’s word and spend time with Him in prayer, the “bugs” could grow larger or get a stronger hold. But if I am sincerely seeking an “update” with “bug fixes,” he is faithful to work in my heart to make it more like His.

Psalms 119:11 (NLT) I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

no updates

Sit up straight!

As I sit on my hotel room balcony at Madeira Beach, FL having my quiet time, I find the top of the rail right in my line of sight. To see the birds fishing and the occasional shark fin, I have to change my normal sitting position and sit up really straight, stretching a bit taller than normal.

It made me wonder:

What blessings do I miss because I won’t sit up and take notice?
How do I miss being a blessing to others when I won’t humbled myself.
What message is The Lord trying to send me that I am missing because I won’t change my posture before Him?

Lord, help me be tuned in enough that I am always in the right posture before you. I don’t want to miss anything you have for me because I know it will be good.

James 1:17 (NLT) Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.

Are you committed?

Psalms 37:5 Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.

I am really enjoying “Jesus Calling,” which is the most powerful devotional book I have ever encountered. This morning I was particularly struck by,

“Don’t divide your life into things you can do by yourself and things that require My help. Instead, learn to rely on Me in every situation.”

Busted!

Psalms says to commit EVERYTHING I do to The Lord – not just the stuff I can’t get on my own. And, if I REALLY did some soul searching, I’d probably realize there’s a lot less I can do on my own than I typically think.

Lord, help us rely on you in every moment today as we strive to make a difference in our world for you.

Postscript – I don’t read “Jesus Calling” as if God has given the writer new revelation and messages. Evidently, some people do – which is very dangerous. I read it, comparing it to God’s revelation to us through His word and find no new message. What I seek is the same kind of meditation on God’s Word that draw me closer to His presence. I think that matches up with His heart.