Glance and Gaze

What do you do when you are up against a challenge? Do you focus on the problem, possibly losing sleep over solutions? Or have you tried gazing on the ultimate problem solver? “Glance and Gaze” was a principle I was taught as a young follower of Jesus that has proven true again and again.

Gaze on the beauty of the Lord.

Think about it a bit. What are some of the qualities that make our God different from us? Unlike me, the one who made us is 100% reliable, all powerful, knows everything that ever was or ever will be, is good, kind, patient, usually gentle and perfectly loving. With those attributes on my side I think I can begin to relax at least a bit.

Easy to say and a little tougher to put into practice, but man, trust me, it is worth it!

The idea of glance and gaze is to glance at the problem, not soak in it. That time I save by not staring at the problem I use to gaze at the one who has all the wisdom and resources to solve my problem. And by gaze, I do not mean begging or pleading for help. I mean, looking steadily in awe and wonder at how beautiful and magnificent is the one who holds us all in balance.

When I gaze at the source of life I can’t help but begin to worship. When I worship, the very thing that had me troubled begins to change in front of me. Often it changes from a dominating, energy-sucking thing to something God has control over. Then because I am perfectly loved and God knows both me and my circumstances, I begin to breathe a little more easily and hope begins to blossom. It is almost as if the challenge changes shape and size. Compared to Creator, whatever it is becomes remarkably smaller and more manageable.

Decades of glancing and gazing to varying degrees of success has taught me a lot about the trustworthiness of our Creator who is so worthy of all the gazing I can muster.

I love these two verses:

“One thing I have asked of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life and to inquire in his temple.” Ps 27:4

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own….” 1 Cor 6:19

Those of us who follow Jesus have the advantage of being able to gaze upon the Lord up close and personally because we are the temple of the Holy Spirit! We can find God in the Bible, in Creation, in our walk of faith, through other faithful followers of Jesus and in the still small voice of the Holy Spirit that lives within us. Worship music is one of my personal favorite and fastest ways to get me to move from the problem to the one who holds the answers. How about you?

What do you need to glance at today? How do you choose to gaze today?

 

The Wind And The Spirit

As I sit looking out my window I hear the literal roar of the wind as it visibly rocks the trees back and forth like a wild dance. There is no visible sign of a storm in the sky, nor is there one in the weather forecast for at least a hundred mile radius. The sun is glaring, giving the illusion of warmth. The wind chill factor makes it feel like it is 10 degrees, not in the 30’s that my thermometer reads.

Soaring on the Wind

The mixed messages make me think of the spiritual times we find ourselves in. The Spirit of God is moving, of that I have no doubt. Many people are hopeful, but many hear the roar of the Spirit and are afraid. It is loud and scary if one is not grounded in our Creator and in His Holy Spirit. By allowing the Spirit to fill us and lead us we can ride with and on the wind instead of being blown over by it.

John 3: 8 “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

The wind of the Spirit itself is imperceptible to the eye. The effects of it though are often easy to see. Like the tree that fell in a wind storm last week and took out our electrical lines for several hours, the power of the Spirit is seen in physical and emotional healing that comes through forgiveness and repentance.

With our human eyes the things going on around us are often appear hopeless and confusing. The prophet Isaiah speaks for God when he said [emphasis mine]:

Isaiah 55:“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
7 let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

10 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
    and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

So, how do we soar on the wind of the Spirit?

Rest, trusting that God really does know what is happening. (v8-9)

Listen, to the word of God and wise counsel from friends who are ahead of us in learning to soar. (v 6 & 11)

Step out, believing “He who calls in faithful and He will bring it to pass.” 1 Thessalonians. 5:24

It’s not always pretty, but that is how we learn.

Finally, hold on for the ride of your life! Life on the wind of the Spirit is an adventure like no other.

 

Many Facets Of Shalom

Shalom is most often translated “peace.” I am not a Hebrew scholar, but I have learned that every Hebrew word has several different, meanings. The most common of shalom’s meanings are peace, wholeness or completeness, soundness or good health, perfect, (as well as hello and goodbye!)

For longer than I care to remember I have been restless. Often working to please others, I knew something was missing from my life. I was not exactly a poster child for Shalom. Searching for peace in many different ways I was dissatisfied. I was not whole or complete, my health did not hold up, in short I was far from perfect. I need the complete fullness of Shalom.

Along my journey I met Jesus. He certainly brought a greater measure of wholeness to my life. I am grateful for that! Yet, our lives are a journey and we all have many unanticipated turns along the way. Some turns have added to the lack of Shalom, while others have brought measures of healing toward wholeness. All have brought me closer to God.

With the presences of God in my life I am learning to let go of the many layers of “restlessness.” I echo Paul when he says in Philippians 3:12 “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” Now I am learning to operate from Christ’s fullness and from His infinite love and acceptance of me…just the way I am.

I do not need to perform. I do, however, desire to please my redeemer because He gave everything to make me His.

Paul goes on in v13 “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,”

Forgetting what lies behind is an entirely different topic, but for today lets call it peeling away the layers and letting go of them. “Straining forward to what lies ahead”  is our current job description.

Finally, v14 “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” It is worth it! Yes, it is sometimes painful, but it is always worth it to leave behind and press on. The prizes along the way are unique to each person. The goal is to be like Jesus…the perfect example of wholeness and peace. The journey is a constant adventure with the ever-increasing understanding of the presence of our Maker in and with us every moment.

How do you most need shalom today, this week…? What is Abba asking you to let go of?

Abba, You know exactly what each person needs today. You know what we need to let go of to make our path to true Shalom more straight and level. Shine you light and your truth and lead us on a level path to health, wholeness and Christ likeness, for your glory! Amen

Life Is Good!?!

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! (Psalm 27:13)

Not every day feels like Life is good. I like this t-shirt because on the days when life feels good, I like to announce it. But I also like to wear it on days when life decidedly does not feel good. Why? I like to remind myself and I like to declare to the world around me that even, or especially, when circumstances are not good to the untrained eye, I know that my God is good and is going to work it out in the end.

Just because God is good does not mean life necessarily feels good all the time. Much of life is hard, unfair, sad, a grind, a challenge, shall I go on? So why make the statement Life is good, when it can be all those things?

Life is both hard and good, even at the same time. In our lives of instant everything, we sometimes forget the importance of character development. If everything lines up and is easy, there is little or no character growth. I know character development, Christ likeness, is a process and tough circumstances are a requirement in learning to make wise choices.

Learning to work through difficult circumstances is often a lesson in disappointment with ourselves. That is a good thing in many ways. Learning to hand those misplaced expectations, sometimes unrealistic expectations, over to our Creator allows Him to repair and restore us.These are exercises in trusting in our Maker. That yielding is always a cause for joy for me. It is when I stop working so hard and begin to let God work in me, through me and around me. Life is good when that happens!

I love the promises of Romans 8:35-39

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

No matter what we face, God loves us and is in it with us! That declaration of the perfect love of God is reason enough to celebrate each new day!

Where are you on the ‘life is good’ scale today? What biblical promises can you think of to meet you today?

Abba, Thank you for choosing to make me and give me life! Thank you that nothing I go through is wasted. Thank you for being patient with me as you lovingly form me into the image of Christ in a way that only I can reflect to those I interact with. Thank you for your many promises of perfect, unfailing love and constant presence in my life. With those in mind I declare that yes, Life Is Good!

Light And Dark And Lent

Lent is here. Lent is the six-week season in the Church calendar leading up to the Crucifixion celebrated on Good Friday and the Resurrection of Easter Sunday. The intentional excesses of Mardi Gras now are past for another year. For some, Lent is a dark season, because it is a season of self-denial and preparation. 

That may sound dark and dismal, but it really is a season of contrasts. Not everyone fasts from something they like. Personally, if I fast, I try to go without something that takes time from my relationship with God. Distractions. In the past I have gone without certain foods, but one lent I stayed off Facebook, except for my work. Another year I stopped playing solitaire on my phone.

The idea is to replace the distraction with more time engaging God in a new or renewed and meaningful way. To me these changes bring increased light into my life. Reading, prayer, long walks and photography are all meaningful options for me.

This year I am easing into Lent. That may not sound good, but for me, it is. I am learning to live with more grace in my life. I don’t have to do lent at all, but I have found it really does help me understand better why I need a savior and how Jesus is that savior.

Yes I am off sugar, but then that is where I need to be anyway. There are other things I will do without by next week, but I am still listening to discern what if anything I want to add to take me deeper in my walk with God. In my renewed intent to give myself and to receive more grace, I am giving myself another week to figure it out.

I am not “doing Lent” to be religious, but to deepen my relationship with the God who made me and redeemed me. And maybe the grace is the thing I add for the full season….

Have you asked God about Lent for this year? How might He be inviting you to go deeper in relationship with Him?