God’s Amazing Imagination

imagination

God made the two great lights—the greater light (the sun) to rule the day, and the lesser light (the moon) to rule the night; He made the [galaxies of] stars also [that is, all the amazing wonders in the heavens]. Genesis 1:16 (AMP)

I chose this particular verse in the Amplified Bible because of the colorful way it describes God’s imagination – the amazing wonders of His creation. Anyone with any of their senses intact and a brain that even remotely computes can attest to the magnificence of who, what, and where we are.

And God, the Ultimate Creator, has placed in us that same creative imagination.

Shame on those who try to stifle that imagination in children and grownups alike, blocking ideas to build wonderful things, to develop vital solutions to impossible problems, to create beautiful art, and to write incredible stories.

Like me, you’ve probably worked for employers or with groups of people who shunned your innovative thoughts in favor of the same old, same old. Maybe you’ve had teachers who ripped your art to shreds because it didn’t follow their guidelines. Perhaps you’ve stopped trying because someone(s) told you that your ideas/efforts weren’t good enough. Or you didn’t know the right people. Or you didn’t have the right experience. Or your haircut was offensive. Okay, that last one might be a bit extreme, but you get the point.

Now, listen to me. Read on.

No matter what anyone says or has said to you, remember this: Nobody – NOBODY – has the right to cut your imagination off at the knees. If you can’t use it at work because of some idiot boss or coworker (yeah, I’ve had a few of those), then find a way to let it go in another area of your life. If you’ve been told you have no imagination and you fell for it, please recognize those words for what they are – LIES. Big fat ones.

Every single person is creative. Every single person has the spark of something new, something amazing, something completely awesome. EVERYONE. That includes you.

I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking. It simply amazes me to think about it! How thoroughly you know me, Lord! Psalm 139:14 (TPT)

You are mysteriously complex. A breathtaking creation of God, the Father.

Think about that.

Now go and create!

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Who Is Your Friend?

Friends

I read the following in John 15:14-15 this morning: 

“You show that you are my intimate friends when you obey all that I command you.  I have never called you ‘servants,’ because a master doesn’t confide in his servants, and servants don’t always understand what the master is doing. But I call you my most intimate friends, for I reveal to you everything that I’ve heard from my Father. (The Passion Translation)

Let that sink in for a moment. I mean, really sink in. Jesus is telling us that He calls us His most intimate friends, because He reveals everything He’s heard from the Father.

We’ve all got friends, right? Some closer than others. Some might even be intimate friends. But how many of those intimate friends fit into the category Jesus includes us? I would venture to guess that if there are any, they are very few and far between.

We have the awesome privilege of walking so closely with Jesus that He is our intimate friend. We can link arms with Him and walk lock-step together, sensing every gentle nudge, hearing every whisper He speaks, following His wise counsel, and resting in the assurance that He has us in His grasp. If you stop to think, it would be pretty hard to disobey Him and go our own way when we’re linked up with Jesus, arm in arm.

Are you getting this?

Growing a relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ doesn’t happen when you take off and do your own thing. You can’t hear His voice when you’re out there  pretending He doesn’t know what you’re up to. Come on, you know I’m right.

I don’t know about you, but I want to be as close to Jesus as I possibly can be. I want to feel Him sitting beside me when I am with family or friends, to sense Him looking over my shoulder when I am writing, to be in the car with me when I am driving somewhere. That doesn’t happen when I leave Him at the church after a Sunday service, and I don’t consider Him again until the next time I’m there.

JESUS. IS. REAL.

And He’s my Friend. He wants to be yours, too.

Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.  – 2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (MSG)

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March 8, 2019 · 9:31 AM

The Lord is My Shepherd

Image result for the lord is my shepherd

“The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.” Psalm 23:1 (HCSB)

I am drawn to this verse in Psalm over and over, particularly as it is written in this translation.

As our Shepherd, God is leading us, taking care of us, protecting us. And when we wander off, He goes searching to find us so that we can be a part of the flock again. He makes sure that His sheep lack nothing. Nothing. 

Now before you get all in a huff about being compared to sheep, let’s understand that the focus here is the Shepherd. He is the one who is handling things. He is the one who is providing. In that provision, there is everything that would be a proper object of need or desire (don’t miss the word proper), whether that is physical or spiritual, pertaining to the body or the soul, or having reference to the present or to eternity. All of our real lack is supplied.

How completely amazing is that?

On a personal level, it means that when I am allowing God to lead me, taking care of me, and protect me – not wandering off to do my own thing – He is making sure there is absolutely nothing important that I lack. I have everything I need in Him.

Sometimes I need Him to use the hook on that shepherd’s staff of His to catch me and pull me gently back into the place where I’m supposed to be. Close to Him. And that is always, always, the best place.

When the Lord is your Shepherd, there is really nothing you lack.

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The Light

Sun in Window.jpg

My first post of 2019 will be an encouragement, I hope, and a challenge.

After the busy-ness of the Christmas season and settling back into familiar routines, these first few weeks of the new year sometimes need a little boost to keep us on track. Our church usually kicks things off with a 21-day fast, in whatever form that takes for each individual. This year, however, we’ve changed things up a bit. We’re fasting for a week and meeting together at the church for a prayer time every evening.

Wow.

And I say “wow” for several reasons. First, the turnout has been nothing short of stunning. People want to pray! Second, the Holy Spirit has been moving in His gentle way, touching deeply the hearts of those who step out of their busy schedules to be there in that room. Third, God has downloaded so much into my own spirit that I feel as though I will be sorting through those files for a good long while, basking in His love for me.

Wow.

Call them visions or whatever, but I sometimes see things in my spirit when I am praying. I have learned to pay attention when these pictures come. During the prayer times at the church this week, I’ve seen the same thing twice, but in different ways.

The first was a window, much like the one I inserted at the top of this post. There was a bright Light shining through – brighter anything could ever be. All I could think was GLORY! This is GOD’S GLORY! It was a good thing I was sitting at the time, because I would have fallen to the ground at the magnitude of what I saw.

The following evening, I saw the same Light at the very core of me. Actually IN me! The Light was spinning and growing and expanding and spreading, filling every single part of me. I knew without a doubt that the Light was Jesus, who lives in me – His GLORY! To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of gloryColossians 1:27 (NKJV)

But what does all of this mean? Glad you asked, because I asked the same thing.

Think about a dark room. A really dark room. If you light a match in a corner of that room, it’s amazing how much light there is. Just like that, the Light of Jesus penetrates the darkness, shedding Light on every situation, every problem. There are no shadows. The Light reveals every issue and sin, enhances every joy, and everything becomes clear.

The Light draws you to Him. He holds you, surrounds you with love you can’t explain, infuses you with peace that you’ll never understand, washes you with His living, purifying water of life.

The Light inside you pulls you in and keeps you close. His Spirit speaks wisdom to you. He teaches you and motivates you and encourages you. He gives you the ability to see the next step to take.

And the fire! The fire of the Holy Spirit burns hot and never goes out. The fire spreads and sparks, bursting outward with power and love.

It’s real.

It’s the only real there is.

Seek the Light – the Light who is Jesus Christ.

For you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9 (NLT)

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One Another

Image result for one another

Recently, I looked at all the “one another” references in the New Testament. Because there are so many, I realized that God clearly cares about this.

What would happen if we – Christians, followers of Christ, born-again believers – actually regarded one another as outlined in Scripture? Would we . . . could we . . . change the world?

From the NKJV, here’s my list.

  • Mark 9:50  Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.
  • John 13:14  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.
  • John 13:34  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
  • John 13:35  By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
  • John 15:12  This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
  • John 15:17  These things I command you, that you love one another.
  • Romans 12:5  So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members  of one another.
  • Romans 12:10  Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;
  • Romans 12:16  Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
  • Romans 13:8   Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
  • Romans 14:13  Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.
  • Romans 14:19  Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.
  • Romans 15:5  Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus,
  • Romans 15:7  Therefore receive one another, just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.
  • Romans 15:14  Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another.
  • 1 Cor. 11:33  Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.
  • 1 Cor. 12:25  That there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.
  • Galatians 5:13  For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
  • Galatians 5:15  But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!
  • Galatians 5:26  Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
  • Galatians 6:2  Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
  • Eph. 4:2  With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,
  • Eph. 4:25  Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another.
  • Eph. 4:32  And be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.
  • Eph. 5:19  Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,
  • Eph.5:21  Submitting to one another in the fear of God.
  • Col. 3:9  Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds,
  • Col. 3:13  Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.
  • Col. 3:16  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and  admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
  • 1 Thess. 3:12   And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another and to all, just as we do to you,
  • 1 Thess. 4:9   But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;
  • 1 Thess. 4:18  Therefore comfort one another with these words.
  • 1 Thess. 5:11  Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
  • Heb. 3:13  But exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
  • Heb. 10:24  Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works,
  • Heb. 10:25  Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
  • James 4:11  Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.
  • James 5:9   Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the Judge is standing at the door!
  • James 5:16   Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
  • 1 Peter 1:22  Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,
  • 1 Peter 3:8  Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tender hearted, be courteous;
  • 1 Peter 4:8  And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”
  • 1 Peter 4:9  Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.
  • 1 Peter 4:10  As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
  • 1 Peter 5:5  Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
  • 1 John 1:7   But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
  • 1 John 3:11   For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another,
  • 1 John 3:23   And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment.
  • 1 John 4:7  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
  • 1 John 4:11   Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
  • 1 John 4:12   No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.
  • 2 John 1:5   And now I plead with you, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment to you, but that which we have had from the beginning: that we love one another.

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The Fool(s)

Fools

I wasn’t going to post today, but then I read this:

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.          Proverbs 18:2 (ESV)

Does this not perfectly describe our totally insane world?

As I read the highlights of various news websites this morning, I was once again struck by the idiocy of high-ranking, prominent people – leaders of countries, even – who spout off bizarre opinions that anyone with a brain would discard in a second. At least, I hope they would. And once again, I realized this: We are surrounded by fools.

The fools aren’t interested in understanding. They just want to talk and make sure everyone hears them because, of course, they are right and everyone else is wrong. And if, by some remarkable chance, they discover that their opinion is faulty, they will never admit it.

Want to see what else the Bible has to say about this?

The wise are glad to be instructed, but babbling fools fall flat on their faces.             Proverbs 10:8 (NLT)

God has provided a solution to all of the lunacy out there. Pray for wisdom – His wisdom.

Seek His direction.

Follow Him.

Look for godly understanding in a very ungodly world.

Don’t be a babbling fool. Please.

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Surrounding Yourself With Other Yous

Clones

We gravitate to people who are just like us – people who enjoy the same activities, share similar tastes, are close in age, come from the same country, have the same beliefs. Human nature is to surround ourselves with like-minded people, lessening the chance of conflict.

Because, really, who likes conflict?

Not me.

But . . . (you knew there was going to be a “but”, didn’t you?) . . . surrounding yourself with other yous tends to create an atmosphere that can become shallow and predictable. While it’s comfortable to be around those who have similar thought patterns and familiar perspectives, you do yourself a great injustice by excluding people who are not like you.

Why?

We need each other to grow. We need people in our lives who think differently, solve problems differently, produce different ideas – people who challenge us. Assembling a diverse group of friends and acquaintances keeps us alert, seeking, and finding.

Let’s throw this into a church environment.

Every single congregation I’ve ever been involved with has been the same in this regard. Small groups of like-minded people huddle together in the larger church setting, seldom mixing with other groups who might be of a different age, culture, or social class. And then there are always individuals on the edges longing for an invitation to join one of these cliques.

This happens everywhere. But is it right? Nope. Is it helpful to our mental and spiritual growth? Nope. Is it an example of the body of Christ working together? Nope. Is it God’s best for us? Absolutely nope!

Next time you’re out among people, look past the other yous and see:

  • Someone who is not like you might just have the solution to a difficult problem you are dealing with.
  • Someone who is not like you may have insight in an area where you are struggling.
  • Someone who is not like you may share an unexpected revelation to a passage of Scripture you’ve wondered about.
  • Someone who is not like you might have an idea that you absolutely love.

Surrounding yourself with other yous is okay – sometimes – but it will often be the not-like-yous who make the difference in your life.

Think about that.

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Too Nice?

too nice

Can we be too nice?

Yes, I think we can. By that, I am certainly not implying that we should abandon all common courtesy to become rude, insensitive idiots. I am saying that we miss important God moments because we are too nice.

“WHAT???” you ask (well, actually you yelled a little).

Let me tell you a story. Or two.

Story #1: Once upon a Sunday, a young woman decided to confide in a friend, an older woman from her church. The young woman was having difficulties in her marriage and she thought that her friend would be the perfect one to offer some advice. The older woman did exactly that, gave a few suggestions, hugged the younger woman and promised to pray for her. Two weeks later, the young couple separated.

Story #2: Once upon another Sunday, a teenage boy sat in the back row of the church – sullen, arms crossed and obviously bored. He was there only because his parents forced him. The youth leader had repeatedly invited the boy to join their group, but the response was usually a shrug and grunt. The leader and his band of teens prayed for the boy on a weekly basis, and were saddened to learn that he had committed suicide.

These stories may be extreme (or not), but in both cases prayer was going up for the ones who needed it. The Christians did what they were supposed to, right? So what happened?

Here’s my opinion: Neither the older woman or the youth leader recognized a God moment – or if they did, they didn’t take immediate action.

I know, because this used to be me. I was the one promising to pray for the woman with a trouble marriage, and I was the one inviting the outcast. But I missed the boat because I was too nice to stop right there and pray for the young woman or the teenage boy on the spot. I wanted to spare them the discomfort and embarrassment of an “out loud” prayer right there where other people might be within earshot. Or, let’s be honest, maybe I wanted to spare myself.

Perhaps the two situations would have ended the same way, even with the right-here-right-now prayer. But what if they didn’t?

What if, because you halted in your tracks and took their hands and petitioned the Father on their behalf, the lives of these two people changed? What if others heard you praying and came to join their prayers with yours to intercede? What if the whole church gathered around these lost and discouraged souls and held them up to the Lord together? What if you didn’t give a rip about being nice, and approached both the woman and the boy with some much needed words of wisdom, exhortation, and unconditional love?

Often, in our efforts to be nice, we pass over encounters that can and will change lives. We don’t want to offend. We don’t want to butt in where we think we have no business. We don’t want other people to think we’re weird religious fanatics.

But do you think that when people came to Jesus with their problems, he patted them on the head, said he’d pray for them, and told them to run along? Absolutely not! He dropped everything, even when it was inconvenient, and dealt with the issue immediately.

Look for the opportunities, the God moments. They are all over the place. The more often you stop your ridiculously busy life, the more you will see.

And stop being so nice! Someone’s eternity may depend on you.

 

 

 

 

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On Your Knees

On Your Knees

I’m just going to say it. We don’t pray enough. And by “we”, I mean me, you, Christians everywhere. That goes for personal prayer, corporate prayer, and prayer for one another.

It’s pitiful how poorly attended prayer meetings are. The church I attend has a weekly prayer time for one hour – ONE HOUR – and on a really good day we might have ten percent of the congregation show up, which I think might be a higher percentage than the majority of churches would report.

Gatherings like this should fill church auditoriums to the rafters. Because seriously, what is more important than seeking God’s direction for every more we make?

This morning, our women’s group began discussing the sad state of affairs in our city, our country, our local and national governments, and we didn’t even get into the bible study. We realized that we had been hugely remiss in praying for these areas. We also realized how the enemy has been gaining ground because we – yes, you and me – have not done a whole lot to stop him.

We are under attack, people, and it’s a very strategic and calculated attack. The problem is, most of us aren’t even aware of it, which is exactly what the enemy wants. He would rather have us be complacent, lukewarm Christians because if that’s what we are, then we’re no threat to his plans. And you know what Jesus said about lukewarm Christians? I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” Revelation 3:15-16 (NLT)

May this serve as a wake-up call for all of us. Me and you. Us. Let’s get on our knees to pray – and not the wishy-washy stuff that doesn’t get past the ceiling – but real, honest, sincere, and even militant prayer. The kind that touches the heart of God and brings the results that only He can orchestrate. The kind that pushes back the enemy and makes him mad. The kind of prayer that uses the authority that’s ours through Jesus Christ.

Our country needs it. Our governments need it. Our cities and churches need it.

YOU need it!

“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 will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NKJV)

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More Than Anything

Presence of God

This morning, I was reading Exodus 33, particularly the part where God promises His presence to Moses. I know this is a long portion of Scripture to post in a blog, but the message makes it well worth the read.

Then Moses said to the Lord, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’ Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.” And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.” So the Lord said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.” And he said, “Please, show me Your glory.” Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. Exodus 33:12-21 (NKJV)

I had to ask myself these questions: Is what I want more than anything the presence of God? To know that He is with me right now? To know that I am walking where He wants me to walk?

YES!

We so easily lose sight of the original intention, which is simply just knowing we are pleasing God. Yet, the more responsibility we’re given, the more He entrusts us with, the harder it can be to focus on that original intention. Like Moses, in the passage above, we sometimes need to stop and turn to the Father, saying, “All I want is Your presence, Lord. I just want to know You. And if You’re not in this, I don’t want to be a part of it.”

Know that God’s presence is with you right now. Know He is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that you could ever ask or think, according to His power that works in you and through you and for you. Know Him, more than anything.

 

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