How Do These Images Touch You?

I don’t know about you, but I am a very visual person. God often impresses His lesson’s on my heart through things I see. So today I give you the opportunity to sit with some photos and ask God, what might He want to show you about Him, about yourself, about other people or His creation? How do these images touch you? I hope you pick at least one to sit with. Listen to the Holy Spirit’s still small voice.

Perhaps the butterfly and flowers don’t “speak” to you. Then maybe these trees on a hill will.

If neither of those fit your mood then my “porch ducks” in the snow might touch you.

Is there something in one that reminds you of the Word of God? Or just make you smile? Why? What thought can you take with you today?

 

Wonderfully Made

Thoughts About Personal Identity and Psalm 139

The Psalmist wrote clearly that each person ever conceived is fearfully and wonderfully made!

See the face? All God’s creatures are one of a kind, wonderfully made. (v13)

As I sat having my morning tea with my 6 month old puppy (now 30 lbs and growing) sitting next to me, I noticed the face. Nellie Belle has become my faithful and loyal friend. She has unique markings on her largely white body. It’s taken me four months to notice the “face” on the pad of one of her paws. (v14) It made me smile, and of course, take a photo. I’m sure there are other things I have yet to discover.

In Psalm 139 the Psalmist is talking with God:

13 For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

For some of us this Psalm may have become almost cliché, but that does not change the facts of it. I like to slow down with it. As I sit, the Holy Spirit has a better chance I will hear Him speak to me.

The world, meaning widely accepted social norms and media tell us we are only worth something if we fit into its mold. Peer pressure, commercials, songs invite us to believe that what they say about us is truer than what our Creator says about us is.

As one who believes in Good and Evil, I hear the lies of the enemy of our souls working to convince us to believe we are never good enough. He lies and twists little pieces of the truth trying to get us tied in knots so we do not hear the truth of who we are and we miss the fulness of our destiny. We all have a good, God-given destiny (v16) and the enemy wants us to miss it. We attempt to meet the phantom expectations from several directions. These, however, will never be satisfied.

Then we have ourselves to contend with. Beyond the world and the enemy, we have our personal habits that can derail us from doing what God created us for. Do I see myself the way my creator sees me? (v15)

We have the gifts of rational thought, the ability to feel a broad range of emotions and also to choose who we will listen to and how we will act as a result.

I feel like God is calling us all to focus on our individual identities in Him. He wants us to know who we are and whose we are. Not so much to fully our destiny so we may be fulfilled and happy, but rather so we can make the world a better place. The result is bringing God glory being our best selves, knowing we are loved and accepted. And we just happen to be more fulfilled and happy as a result.

Take some time to meditate on all of Psalm 139, also sometimes called the Identity Psalm. I’d love to hear what Holy Spirit reveals to your heart!

 

Calm In The Storm

You know those kinds of days, when the storms around you are so thick is hard to see the next step in front of you, literally or figuratively? Finding the calm in the storm often has a lot less to do with the circumstances surrounding us than it does with what is going on in our heads and our hearts.

A recent snow squall. Usually I can see a mile down the canal from here.

Lately, I find myself reminding others, and myself, of the promises our Creator makes to us. The physical, emotional, spiritual and even political storms raging around us are often things we have little or no control over. We can, however, train ourselves to think about our circumstances increasingly from the way God sees them instead of from a powerless human vantage point. Paul tells us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2

I can imagine some saying, “Yeah that’s easy for Paul or you to say, but you don’t have my circumstances.” Or  “There is no end in sight for my situation. My job, my finances, the stress I have at home.” The list can go on, but there is a way to find calm in the storm.

To start with, try this promise on for size, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

The storm rages outside, but inside, there is calm, and safety.

For me in this season, part of my escape route and way to begin transforming my mind looks like tuning out the politics that I used to enjoy. In my opinion, they have increasing become a blood sport. I can turn some of the politics to prayer. It also means replacing that focus with God’s promises from the Bible. For example, We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:5

Most importantly though, I turn my focus increasingly away from my points of stress. Instead I want to focusing on our Creator who is loving, powerful and ultimately completely in control. I let go. I invite God to help me let go, and I trust He really is who He says He is and He will keep His promises! As I learn to let go and trust, I find calm in the storm, whatever the storm is.

What point of stress is God asking you to let go of? Can you find a Bible verse, or few, to tune into instead?

Make God Smile

"My whole intent in living here is to make God smile." -Gianna Jesson

I recently watched a recording of Gianna Jesson. She survived an attempted abortion in 1977 and is living to make God smile. She lives with what she calls “the gift of cerebral palsy” that she contracted as a result of her failed abortion. Addressing Queen’s Hall, Parliament House, Victoria – Australia in 2008 she said something that go me thinking. “My whole intent in living here is to make God smile.”

My puppy reminds me how to smile and to make God smile, by being fully herself.

I believe firmly each of us is here to bring glory to our Creator. I like the way she phrased it. For me, she took away the possible perception of  bringing glory to God a burden. She took the pressure to somehow find a way to please God and replaced it with the delight of being an innocent child with a parent, delighting it that mutual affection.

I want to be that child, not the grown-up striving to please phantom expectations.

Gianna is approaching 40 years of life, and she has taken on grown-up responsibilities, such as speaking before Australian Parliament and the US House Judiciary Committee. These are not for the faint of heart, or for immature babies. Yet, when I watch her I see her joy bubbling up. I also see her love for people, her freedom and boldness for Jesus because of her keen awareness that her life is a gift. It makes me want to have that too.

Then the question comes to me: am I willing to go through a version of her “life school” to have those qualities? When these characteristics are genuine in someone, they are inevitably forged through suffering and trials. We all face difficulties and setbacks in life. The challenge becomes, how do we handle them?

So, when I face difficulties and challenges I must remember that God is on my side. He is for me, not against me. The Creator of everything thought of me and chose me before time began! He wants each of us to grow into our personal, unique versions of Christ likeness. Each of us is the only person who can represent Him though our own distinct ways.

He is vested in our success and He promises to be with us through our difficulties. Taking ourselves less seriously and enjoying our personal relationship with God, is arguably the best way to make Him smile.

We are all in process! I pray I will live to become fully who I am created to be because I know that is what will make God smile!

How do you want to make God smile today?