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Discernment – The Welcome Dinner Guest

for-the-ways-of-the-lord-are-right-and-the-righteous-will-walk-in-themWe get so caught up in the physical –the tangible life. Our emotions are attached to jobs, material possessions and flowery accolades from our peers. And, when our expectations are not met, we melt like a Popsicle in the hot summer sun.

We sob from our guts – because our hearts are fragile. After all, they are flesh – simply caged by bones that create a somewhat secure barrier.

But this barrier is not impenetrable.  Filth can find its way into the crevices of our soft pumping organ. It seeps in when we least expect it.

We try to stay watchful and guard our hearts and minds; but, the feeling of misplaced trust and charity sing a sweet siren song. So, we eventually unbuckle that armor that has clutched our sweaty bodies so tightly.

We are human. We rely on chariots and muscle blazing horses – when we should only listen and place our feeble faith in the LORD. The promises he speaks are steadfast and true.

There is nothing wrong with dropping our guard. We were created to be soft and emotional beings. However, we were also called to have a spirit of discernment – one that whispers to our soul when things do not appear right.

Discernment is the welcome dinner guest to a table so often stacked with faux china plates and illusions of fine cuisine.

Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; Whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right, And the righteous will walk in them, But transgressors will stumble in them. – Hosea 14:9

Let us pray for a soul that truly deciphers between what is right, honest and godly – and what has been simply dipped in gold – fashioned to look like an authentic relic of great value.

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Humble Yourselves and Pray

“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the One who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” – Max Lucado.jpgMidnight musings – often times they are disheveled thoughts, silent arrow prayers or just words … significant words that parade through your mind and your dreams in the early hours of dawn.

These words are often times muddled; but oftentimes they are powerful and send chills down your drowsy spine.

“Humble yourselves and pray” was the phrase of choice that woke me last night from a deep, warm sleep. Eyes wide awake – this charge was flashing like a neon billboard throughout my mind.

The call to prayer was commanding and the need to protect myself with the full armor of God was evident.

My soul has felt pretty weighty these past few months. Pounds of dirt and filth have been hindering the lenses of my heavenly glasses. We see lies taking precedence on airs waves around the country.  Eyes and hearts are being deceived across the nation.

Yet, all we can do as Children of God is – humble ourselves and pray.

You may think you cannot make a difference – that your words are lost in a sea of rhetoric and confusion. Words fueled without spiritual backing may be empty and vapid; but, your prayers rooted in the promises of the LORD are pure gold!

“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the One who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” – Max Lucado

Fall on your knees, dear ones. Plead for truth, clarity and an uprising of clarity over this land.

Discard the grandeur of self-worth, overcome the shackles that bind you and humble yourselves before the Savior of this world.

Your prayers are not uttered in abandon. They fall on the ears of the one who gives and takes away. They fill up the basin above. May this bowl overflow with the prayers of the saints!

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14

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A Letter To My Unborn Son

il_fullxfull.1040861689_kawxWhen I first found out you were going to be a little boy, I was happy. I was ecstatic. I had always dreamed of having a little gentleman. Yet, being raised without a brother, fear started to set in as the time ticked by. Will I be enough for this precious child? Will my love be adequate? Will I know how to teach him to be strong and courageous in the LORD?

These are things that I have been praying for endlessly, little one. As I feel you move in my tummy, I think about the man that God is creating you to be – bold like a lion, wise like a leader and a kindhearted giver.

Dear son, God has his hand on your life – and that truth is beautiful to me. Your flesh has been spoken for and the King of Kings has called you by name. I have never experienced the blessing of carrying one of God’s children in my womb before; but this experience and the joy it gives me is unending.

Sure, there are days, that it’s hard to carry another life in my body. You realize your mortal nature and limits. But, when I think about the unique and separate life God is forming in me – it brings tears to my eyes. That cannot be matched.

God chooses to make warriors from feeble flesh and bone. He chooses to breathe his life into temples prone to break and shatter. He chooses to crown the unworthy with his pearls of wisdom. And, sweet son, I desire for God to crown you with his precious gifts.

I pray that you desire to seek your Creator. That I will be able to emulate an untamed passion for the Savior of our lives! May God guard my lips and make me into a vessel that only speaks pleasing and positive words over your life.

From birth, I pray you feel God’s breath wash over your body. May you feel his love burst forth over your heart and mind. As we hold you right out of the womb – may you feel God’s love beating from our chests onto yours – for you are our miracle!

More than anything in this world, I want you to comprehend God’s never-ending love for you. I want you to seek out his word and follow where his spirit is leading you.

Like King David, I will pray every day for you to truly be a man that chases after God’s heart. May you dream dreams and see visions like the prophets of old. Sweet boy, I pray for your relationship with the Maker of All Good Things.

From the moment of conception, he has been calling you by name, sweet one. May your ears be tuned to truly listen for his voice and your eyes open to see the goodness of the LORD of Hosts.

We look forward to physically seeing and holding the perfection that is you – formed by the hands of the Master Artist.

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When The Brook Has Dried Up

'The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the land.' - 1 Kings 17_ 7, 8 & 14You’re parched – literally craving the mist circling like a watery aura around the garden hose. You lean forward and try to guzzle that stream of cool water; yet – the spicket runs dry before you can enjoy even one taste.

You grimace and feel destitute; but, sometimes the brooks in our lives run dry. We sit there with empty hands, scratch our heads and try to lap up the dust – but the stream is emaciated.

When this happens, we can feel helpless – like a toddler that has our security blanket snatched from us too soon, we cry out and are baffled at why this water has been stolen from us. It’s not only appalling, it’s painful.

But is it necessarily a bad thing to be parched – especially when we are trusting entirely too much in our own shallow water source?

God gives and takes away.

And though the taking away part might be extremely agonizing, if you are a Child of God – never doubt that he will always give you beauty for ashes and strength for fear.

He will point you to the stream that overflows with rich, cool, never ending water – for by drinking from that brook, we truly fill our souls.

“Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the LORD came to him …”

“The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the land.” – 1 Kings 17: 7, 8 & 14

We must let the LORD’s rain water our spirits and wash away our feeble sources of fulfillment.

This might mean a little time in the desert – walking on crackling, thirsty soil. But, it’s worth it. You may not feel like it now – but wandering can lead to bold contentment.

Like the Israelites, their time in the desert was not wasted. They saw miracles come to pass, God raised up brave leaders and they were led to a land flowing with milk and honey.

May we drop our earthly wanton desires and seek the water that daily provides nourishment to our souls.

God will not let you be barren for a lifetime.

He wants to water your roots; but water them with his stream of healing, living waters.

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Glow With The Presence of The Conquering King

For when we glow with the presence of the conquering King – darkness has to flee. It shrivels in despair..jpgLet’s just breathe – relax. Let’s loosen the feverish grasp we have on the situations we cannot control. Because they are just that – issues we cannot manage ourselves.

We see the swirling world around us – and it worries us – for good reason. We witness evil and malevolence gaining a foothold in society. This moss encrusted virus covers the hills and crevices of our culture.

We weep for such a loss. It’s terrifying – absolutely horrifying and depressing.

What you once considered right, gazing through the glasses of morality, are now mucky – caked in debris. You try to warn those around you that calamity is coming if we give way to such deceit; but, the clear looking glass is smudged – and black and white features have faded to gray.

It’s easy to walk around defeated and dulled by the sharp edges of life. For life in this world is not always fair – no, it’s painful sometimes.

Flowers do not always line the pavement to our imagined field of dreams. Sometimes we have to scrub the pavement of the graffiti – made by the hands of vandals and thieves. We have to pluck the thorns of the ruby rose – in order to appreciate the full beauty and fragrance.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows.… Psalm 23:4

We may witness evil gaining a foothold. We may see the sky illuminate with the smoke of destruction and chaos. These are things that we, as children of the Living God, may witness.

Yet, we mustn’t lose heart. The LORD tells us to keep shining his light.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. – 2 Corinthians 4:8

For when we glow with the presence of the conquering King – darkness has to flee. It shrivels in despair.

We cannot fix this broken world; but we can bring hope to the hopeless and true healing to the broken. We can stand firm on the bedrock of our faith and share with others how to distinguish what is good and lovely in the midst of the bleeding, blurred lines of this crumbling society.

We can hold forth a lantern of truth – knowing that God’s luminosity (no matter if the stream of light is small) can irradiate the darkest of nights.

It just takes faith – and the courage to stare down that sinister smog the world exudes. Darkness and despair should never define us. Look to the light and let it defeat the evil among us.

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Beautiful Love Bursting Forth

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying_ _I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. – Jeremiah 31_3Love. It’s bursting forth. Like a bubbling brook with cool, refreshing water. God’s love for us is overflowing and never-ending. What love is this that the Father has lavished upon us!

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. – Jeremiah 31:3

He looks into our eyes – and deep emotion is garnered. Affection is felt. Not the kind of affection we feel for a family member, loved one, children or spouse. No, this love is deeper. It’s a mixture of all those loves combined along with heavenly, pure passion.

What chills we would feel, if we were to look into the physical face of the King of Kings! One day – we will. But until then, we are blown away at the sensation we garner as the LORD’s loving wind sweeps over our senses.

This feeling is beyond compare. It’s selfless. No mortal being can love us with this type of zeal and adoration.

He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane; I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy. When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory, and I realize just how beautiful You are, and how great Your affections are for me. – David Crowder Band Lyrics

Look up to the heavens, sweet child of the King, and feel the LORD’s love wash over you. He is pleased when you fall before him and thank him for his gracious and greatest sacrifice of all – his blood.

Dance in the freedom that God’s self-sacrificial love has given you. Share his light with the world. He has not called you to be a canister that blocks and snuffs out his all-encompassing light.

Shine bright. Breathe in his love, and share it with others searching and seeking. We all need love, and the kind that the Father of Lights offers can complete a seeking soul! Amen.

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Choosing To Wear Garments of Kindness and Humility

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.Humility and kindness – these are qualities that all parents desire to teach their children. In fact, they are attributes our parents strived to pass down on us.

However, as knock-kneed children, being meek and compassionate toward others was probably the last thing on our minds. We were fixed on story-telling, impressing those around us with our wild experiences, winning coloring contests, and collecting the most Easter eggs in our pastel wicker baskets.

Unfortunately, the truth is – we were sure to have stepped on others feelings a time or two in that process.

Even as adults, it’s not easy to count others better than ourselves. Outdoing others in work projects is a top priority, and climbing the career ladder becomes a prime focus. Yet, as Children of the Living God, it’s necessary to die to our pride every single day.

This death to vanity presents the perfect beauty and picture of God’s grace. You are not saved by your works, good deeds or latest work victory.

You are saved by the LORD’s grace alone. We are all sinners, born with this nature, and that is why the spotless lamb had to suffer on that rugged cross – for you and me.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” – Colossians 3:12

May we choose to dress ourselves in the grace of our Almighty Father. By making the choice to wear garments of kindness and humility, we are choosing to display the grace of our Father.

Every morning may we step into our spiritual clothes of faith – acknowledging that no man is better than the other; but, we are all unique and meaningful in the eyes of our Creator.

Smell in the freshness of these garments stitched with the threads of gentleness. They are some of the finest vestments we can model. We decide everyday either to strap on pride and selfish ambition or to button ourselves with His grace.

May we always choose grace.

 

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A Flower Does Not Think of Competing – It Just Blooms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.”How often do we look at others around us, while we ourselves are growing strong and tall? It happens to us all – we lose sight of our distinctive strengths and fixate on those around us. We lose sight of our personal walk with God and try to measure up to someone else.

It’s so very important we focus on our individual roots not the roots of others.

The flowers around us may be sprouting up in confidence and beauty (and, that’s grand); but don’t let the beauty of others growth stifle who you are!

There is no reason to compete with children of the living God. We are all serving one purpose – to glorify the King of Kings. He has made us all wild, brilliant flowers in his everlasting garden of life. Hallelujah!

“A flower does not think of competing with the flower next to it. It just blooms.”

Bloom, sweet flower, you are uniquely beautiful. Reach up toward the sun and garner your strength from his light. We all have petals of diverse elegance – some bright yellow others pastel pink. But, remember, you were made for a purpose.

Do not lose heart with the virus of comparison – for it can steal your joy. Our confidence should be found in Christ. He is the only one our souls should seek to impress.

“Am I saying this now to win the approval of people or God? Am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant.”  – Galatians 1:10

May we strive to be the best flower that we can be! Let’s unfold in grace and dignity – displaying God’s power and ongoing provision.

Grow in the fertilized soil of God’s Word. Fixate on the sun and not the progress of others around you; for it is the Sun that observes and fawns over our development.

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Locked in the Lion of Judah’s Grasp

You are locked in the Lion of Judah’s grasp.I see your thoughts, child. Wild and apprehensive, you look to me with questions and a genuine pursuit of clarity.

You fall before me and say,

“Father, lead me in your ways. Reveal your beautiful plans to me. May I hear you swiftly and assuredly.”  

Keep looking to me and seeking my face, dear child. For it is in the seeking and the knocking that you will truly hear my voice.

Your action – to pursue my face speaks volumes to my heart; and, I will answer your call.

My plans for you are mighty. You are locked in the Lion of Judah’s grasp. Do not fret about tomorrow, just continue to walk in my will – and expect to receive my blessings and voice of direction.

I have made you for great things. Step out, sweet child. Beyond your comfort zone – and trust in my mountain moving ability. It is I that has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. Please take me at my words.

“They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the LORD.” – Psalm 112:7

Trust and listen for my voice. Breakthrough is on the horizon.

Cranberry, Brussels Sprouts Detox Salad

saladThis refreshing salad was too good not to share. It was my little delicious dinner last night. I call it my ‘detox’ salad because a lot of the ingredients are actually quite detoxifying and super good for your body.

There is little to no prep time to whip up this yummy meal. So start cooking – and your taste buds will thank you and your hips too!

You will need (for the salad): 6 medium sized Brussels sprouts, 1 wedge iceberg lettuce, 10 almonds, ¼ cup cranberries, ¼ cup cooked quinoa, handful of fresh sprouts and 2 diced green onions.

You will need (for salad dressing): ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ cup apple cider vinegar, 2 tbsp. lemon juice, 1 dash of garlic powder, 1 tsp. of mustard and a dash of salt and pepper.

Simply cut off the end s of the Brussels sprouts (I just discarded the ends in the trash) and chop your tasty greens up nicely with a sharp knife, and place in a bowl.

Chop your lettuce wedge up too and add it to your sprout mixture. Dice your almonds in a food processor (or simply by hand) and add to your bowl. Then one by one layer on your other yummy ingredients:  cooked quinoa, sprouts, cranberries and green onions.

In a separate bowl, mix up your salad dressing components and once they are all mixed up – drizzle it over your awaiting salad. And then – enjoy.

This recipe yields one sizeable salad (double the ingredients for a dinner for two!)