February 2008

Our Self Portrait

sunset.jpg                                                                                                                                                                                       Story of the day:  Our Self Portrait

    Pictures can say a thousand words.  I especially love self portraits of people, because they fascinate me the most.  Their eyes in each of the pictures speak volumes as their stories come to life through these still images.  They tend to be a reflection of our Heavenly Father and if you look deep into the eyes of these pictures, it’s as though you can see through their eyes and into the depths of their souls.  I guess that’s why I love them so much.  And after the picture has been taken, there is no fixing it to change a pose or change their outfits.  We can take more pictures, but you can never recapture the same moment in time once a picture has been taken.  There is one picture, if I could go back and take, would say a thousand words.  It is a picture of perfection, simplicity, and built on a lot of love.  It is the picture of the Garden of Eden.             

    Nanette Kinkade illustrates this picture by saying,”God knew He needed more.  Adam was king over the ocean, the sky, the trees, the animals-nothing existed that he didn’t have, except her.  Eve, conceived through Adam’s own life, became the necessary angle of a spiritual triangle that helped mankind best see God.  With God above and the two below ever seeking His face, inevitably they grew closer together as they neared God’s presence, a perfect picture of God’s love relationship with His family.

    But since the Fall, things haven’t been the same.  Where love and trust once grew, seeds of doubt, and despair have sprouted around, covering the accurate picture of hope God intends for His people.  The truth is, Christians are bound to perfection, still.  We just don’t need to look for it in our mates or others.  Instead, we find strength and a steady love from above, from our Heavenly Father who does not change like shifting shadows.  As we receive from Him His endless grace and abounding mercy, we find the freedom to love the spouse and others that God has given us and to allow ourselves the vulnerability required to trust God and our mate or others.  God says that perfect love casts out fear.  When we discover God’s perfect love for us, our fear of failure, rejections, and of being forgotten simply fades away, and the beauty of Christ’s light warms our hearts towards all those around us.”  It does so in a way that is a reflection of God, just as the pictures that are taken of us, it is our Self Portrait.

Quote of the day:  Christy Povolish

“The Self Portraits tend to be a reflection of our Heavenly Father and if you look deep into the eyes of these pictures, it’s as though you can see through their eyes and into the depths of their souls.”

Bible verse of the day:  Genesis 1:27

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

“We have fallen so far from that original picture that You painted in Eden for Your children.” Our self portrait was given to each of us and created in Your image which in turn has become a masterpiece.  May my eyes continue to tell the story of Your will in my life.  May every picture I take radiate the Love that comes only by knowing You.  I thank You for this day!

In Jesus Name I pray,

Amen

February 2008

Cynics

j0423103.jpg                                                                                                                                                                                                 Story of the day:  Cynics

    I have often heard that to be a cynic means to always criticize things that you or others are doing even if you aren’t requesting it.  It is always looking for the negative in and searching for the worst, whether it be in people or situations.  If you are around a cynic for too long, you can start to take on attributes of the cynic as their negativity rubs off onto you. When dealing with a cynic you must turn the cheek and move past the situation. Cynics usually tend to be so negative just because they do not trust the integrity of others.  

     I look at Jesus’ life and all that He went through while here, and how many cynics he had to put up with, and yet He pressed on with the mission and endured to the Cross.  So often we feel a need to want to defend the situation, but to try and defend it to a cynic is nearly impossible.  So instead of arguing and wasting valuable time, I just move on and forward with the plan that God has set before me.  After a while, you just learn to take it with a grain of salt and with the realization that you just can’t please everyone.  And as long as I am pleasing God, that’s all that matters. 

    I have an interesting story and tell me if this situation sounds familiar.  “The story is told of an old man whose grandson rode a donkey while they were traveling from one city to another.  The man heard some people say, “Would you look at that old man suffering on his feet while that strong young boy is totally capable of walking.”

    So then the old man rode the donkey while the boy walked.  And he heard some people say, “Would you look at that, a healthy man making the poor young boy suffer.  Can you believe it?”

    So the man and the boy both rode the donkey, and they heard some people say, “would you look at those heavy brutes making that poor donkey suffer.”  So they both got off and walked, until they heard some people say, “Would you look at the waste-a perfectly good donkey not being used.”

    Finally the scene shifts and we see the boy walking and the old man carrying the donkey. 

    No matter what you do, someone will always criticize it.”  I encourage you today, that if you are being criticized, turn the cheek, let it roll off your back, pray for that person and move forward with God’s purpose and will for your life.  In the long run, you will be better off for having done so.

Quote of the day:  Oliver Stone

“Cynicism has gone too far.  We are becoming what the history books tell us late Rome was like: mired in self-absorption and lacking virtue.”

Bible verse of the day:  John 14:1

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.”

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Cynicism is at times so harsh.  It can be discouraging if I allow the words of a cynic to pierce my heart.  Instead I lean upon You for every situation and turn my cheek just as You did.  God it is not enough for me to just turn my cheek, I need to remember the cynic in prayer and continue to love them the way that You love all.  Give me wisdom to know when to speak and when to just be quiet.  God, I know that not everyone will agree at all times with what I have to say, but I do know that when I write, I write for myself and if others are touched by it, then I have done what You have asked of me.  Thank You for giving me such an understanding heart and to try to see the good in others no matter what they have done.  I love what our Pastor said this weekend, “Jesus forgave at the cross for all the things that we will do and the things that we don’t even know we are doing.”  God, Your Son suffered greatly for us and endured all the cynicism that came about during His time here on earth and never lost focus of the plan that was set before Him.  And though He was tempted as we all are, he passed every single one of His tests.  I pray to pick up my cross everyday and walk in His likeness, doing the things that He has planned for me.  I thank You for this day!

In Jesus Name I pray,

Amen 

February 2008

The Three Little Pigs

j0422256.jpg                                                                                                                                                                                               Story of the day:  The Three Little Pigs

    I love the story of The Three Little Pigs.  For those of you that haven’t heard the story, or heard it in a while, here it is in a nutshell.  Three pigs each built their house out of three different materials. Each to his own thought that they were doing a great job, yet two of the three materials couldn’t withstand the huffing and puffing of the Big Bad Wolf. One pig built his house out of straw, another out of sticks, and the last out of bricks.  The big bad wolf came and tried to blow down every single one of the pigs homes.  The wolf was successful at blowing down the houses of the straw and sticks, yet no matter how hard he tried, was unsuccessful with the pig that built his house out of brick.  This pig was very wise and had some important instruction that the other pig’s chose to ignore and because they chose to ignore, their house had fallen.

    As I was reading Scripture this morning and praying to God and asking what He would like me to say today, the story of building your house on a rock quickly came to mind and so I began reading this over and over again.  God quickly related Jesus as the one that gave instruction to build your house on brick or rock.  The other pigs or people in general chose to ignore the teachings of this Wise Pig (Jesus) and when the Wolf came or the Devil, the houses could not withstand all the turmoil that came along with what was being tossed it’s way and thus fell.  If you turn to Matthew 7:24-29, Jesus tells us just like the little pig that told his brothers to build their home out of brick or “rock” (Matthew 7:24) that if they had listened to what he had to say, then their house wouldn’t have fallen.  The house, (your house) can withstand, the rain, the floods, and the winds that beat on you if you choose to listen to your Heavenly Father and build it on solid rock.  But if you choose not to listen to what Jesus is saying, then it will be as if you “built your house on sand” (Matthew 7:26), rocks or sticks.   And when the rain descends, the floods come, and the winds blow, your house will “fall, and greatly will it fall” (Matthew 7:27).

    So Jesus’ instruction’s are simple, “whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock, and it will not fall.” (Matthew 7:24-25) 

Quote of the day:  Ben Johnson

“He knows not his own strength that hath not met adversity.  Heaven prepares good men with crosses.”

Bible verse of the day: Matthew 7:24

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock:”

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

You tell us that we should listen and do the things that You have shown us through Scripture and prayer.  God when I don’t listen, it is an act of disobedience and the result is that I am building my house on top of sand, which You have clearly shown us, will fall.  God it is so important for my house to be built on solid rock, most importantly Your Solid Rock.  It is the foundation of Truth that helps me withstand all the troubles that may come my way.  I pray for wisdom in knowing the things that You are teaching me, and to ensure that I am following.  God, I pray that no sand gets into the grooves or crevices of my house and if it does, that it is washed away immediately and replaced with more rock.  I thank You for this day!

In Jesus Name I pray,

Amen

February 2008

God’s Language

j04231031.jpg                                                                                                                                                                                     Story of the day:  God’s Language

    Last night, as Jeff and I were watching the History channel, yeah, I know, probably boring to most, but I love it.  Anyhow, we were watching this show and there were many different language translations going on and it got me to thinking about language in general.  Give me Spanish and I can figure it out, Italian, and it’s similar to Spanish, other than that, I don’t know how to translate it very quickly and without many books. 

    One of the languages that was being translated last night was German and as I sat listening to this language, I tried everything in my power to understand what they were saying without reading the written translation that kept coming across my screen.  I tried reading their body language and their facial expressions, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t figure it out.  So I became even more intrigued,  and as I sat listening to this beautiful language it kind of reminded me of baby talk.  So,  I started to wonder how many different languages were actually out there in this big world?  I found one piece of data that said there were 6800 languages spoken in 200 countries.  That is amazing to me.  How does God filtrate all of these languages?  

    Well, needless to say, I started to pray about it and God showed me this.  In Genesis 11:1, way before all the languages came about, “the whole earth had one language and one speech.”  But because the people of the times wanted to build a structure that they gave themselves full credit for, God decided that it was best to confuse the one language.  The people of that time wanted to keep building this structure as high as they possibly could and wanted it to reach the Heavens.  God, not being impressed with this decided that it would probably be best if we didn’t do that and so He decided to confuse our one and only language and speech into many and then called it Babel.  Babel meaning not everyone will understand it and it kind of sounds like baby talk. 

     Yet I find it amazing that God knows every single one of these languages that is being spoken today.  Just as a mother and father know what their 1-2 year old may be saying and it sounds completely odd to others, they know what their child is getting across to them.  Just like the parents, God is able to interpret all that we are saying and although other people may not understand it, God does and He responds in a way that we can get it.  I believe that He answers and speaks to us in that one language that we all started with, and that’s with His Heart to our heart.  It is pressed into us from so much love and understanding and is given to each of us for a special meaning and purpose.  Even in the beginning when we started with the one language, it was supposed to be great and out of so much love, yet we decided to take things into our own hands, as we usually do, and so it became confusing.  And even though He confused the one speech, I still believe that the one speech exists between Him and His child.  It is when we ask Jesus into our life, and are born again that He allows the one language to be spoken and to filtrate deep within our hearts, straight to our souls as He begins to build a different structure, the structure known as the church.  It is the church that God has placed into each of His children.  This time it’s different, we aren’t building this structure all by ourselves, instead God is helping to build it, so that it may be used for His Glory and not that of ourselves.  This structure that is being built by God in each of us will be more powerful than any that we try to build on our own and it is all done in His Language, God’s Language.

Quote of the day:  Thomas Fuller

“When the heart is afire, some sparks will fly out of the mouth.”

Bible verse of the day:  Acts 2:8

“And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?”

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Sometimes it may be hard to understand other languages, and I understand why it had to be done.  God, the one language that I do understand is the one that comes to me straight from You.  It is one out of Love, Grace, and Mercy.  You have a way about You that keeps me continually standing in awe of everything that makes up Who You are.  You have so many great names and today as I write I find that You are the Language that was once taken away many years ago, yet was given back once I gave my life over to You and accepted Your Son for dying on the cross and raising from the dead. And although the language isn’t completely translated just yet, it will be once I get to Heaven.  You give me just enough of the language to keep me pressing in and moving forward and not enough so that I don’t move ahead of You.  It is the profound purpose in me and others that drives us to want to be close to You and to work for Your Kingdom.  It is a rest that I always seem to find when I can’t find it anywhere else.  Thank You for showing this to me today and for finding beauty within it.  I love You Heavenly Father and give You thanks for this day!

In Jesus Name I pray,

Amen

February 2008

Slam Dunk

me-and-the-coyote.jpg                                                                                                                                                                                             Story of the day:  A Slam Dunk

    We love basketball.  We love to see our oldest play the game.  He truly is a natural.  And yes, I know he is my son and all parent’s probably think this of their child, but he truly is gifted with this sport.  It comes naturally to him and with more practice, his natural abilities, and some great coaching, he will be well underway.  As I thought about basketball and how we can all probably pick up a book and learn the fundamentals about the game, which is important, sometimes just letting it flow naturally will get more natural results.  I remembered a story that came out of Fresh Power a wonderful book written by Jim Cymbala.

    He writes, “When I was only ten years old, my brother, Bob, gave me a paperback book on how to play basketball.  Written by Red Auerbach, the legendary coach, general manager, and owner of the Boston Celtics, it was an excellent treatment of the fundamentals:  footwork, defense, shooting, how to dribble the ball, how to pass, how to box out, how to fake.  Soon I was trying out what I had learned in a little church gymnasium.  Every Saturday morning Bob and I would get on the city bus, change to a second bus, and finally arrive at Quincy Street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn, where for up to three hours we would shoot baskets until my little arms were drooping.

    Then it was back home to the bedroom we shared, where I would pull out the book once again to study the instructions, imagine the moves, and linger over the pictures of great Celtic players such as Bob Cousy and Tommy Heinsohn.  In my boyhood eagerness I would practice in front of a mirror:  Fake left, go right, just as Red Auerbach said.

    The book was good….but as I grew older and started playing on my high school team, I found out what every athlete knows:  Although it’s important to learn the fundamentals, they will never by themselves make you a champion.  When you get into a game, you have to go with an inner sense of what will work instant by instant.  I have seen players who have all the basics down packed but are still stiff and mechanical.  They don’t seem to have that special sense that expresses itself in a smooth flow.  That is why they will never get near the rhythm of Magic Johnson, a Larry Bird, or a Michael Jordon.

     God intended His work–everything from teaching a Sunday School class to pioneering a brand-new missionary effort–to be marked by a similar flow of a spiritual kind.  The Bible calls it being “led by the Spirit” (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18).  Yes, there are important doctrinal principles to learn and Biblical facts to nail down, but at the same time, only God the Holy Spirit can weave them all together in a seamless, almost unconscious way so we can touch people with God’s message of love.  What we need is that unique merger of divine truth, human personality, and Holy Spirit gifting that produces effective ministry for Christ.”

 Quote of the day:  Corrie ten Bloom

“I have a glove here in my hand.  The glove cannot do anything by itself, but when my hand is in it, it can do many things.  True, it is not the glove, but my hand in the glove that acts.  We are gloves.  It is the Holy Spirit in us who is the hand, who does the job.  We have to make room for the hand so that every finger is filled.”

Bible verse of the day:  Ephesians 5:25

“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You that You lead us by the Spirit.  God, I pray for that “unique merger of divine truth, human personality, and the Holy Spirit gifting” so that in me You will produce a ministry that is effective for You.  We all have special giftings and when used with the Holy Spirit leading the way, we will be able to express love to others in a smoother flow.  Thank You for Your Son and for the countless times that You continue to forgive me, love me, and are there for me even when others aren’t.  Thank You for just wanting to be my friend.  I am so very humbled by Your Mercy, Grace, and Love that makes up probably just a smidge of all that You are.  There are not enough words to describe You, and sometimes I just stand in Awe of all that You are.  I thank You for my family, my friends, and people I have yet to meet.  I pray a hedge of protection around them.  I pray a special prayer of thankfulness for each of them and ask that You bless them in this day and continue to watch over them.  I pray that they are given courage to speak Your name to others and that deep within them is planted a longing to know You even better than they already do.  I Thank You for this day.

In Jesus Name I pray,

Amen

February 2008

Press 1 and someone may be with you shortly.

j0423103.jpg                                                                                                                                                                                     Story of the day:  Press 1 and someone may be with you shortly.

    I don’t know about you, but how many times have you called a place and didn’t get a person on the first try?  Maybe you had to go through three or four different computerized voices before actually reaching a person.  The personalization of people has been replaced by digital responses.  Sometimes I just don’t want to hear digital voices, and would rather speak to a person, but I think those days are long gone.  I guess I am not the only person that feels this way, Joe Stowell wrote about “it seems as though whenever we try and reach out and touch someone, we are greeted with a computerized voice.

    I’m glad this isn’t true of our Father in Heaven.  He is always there.  No voice-mail boxes, no “press 2 for more grace” and no “call waiting” interruptions.  Thankfully, “Call to Me, and I will answer you” has not been replaced by, “All lines are busy.  Your call is important to Me.  Please stay on the line.”

    Yet I wonder what kind of access He has to us?

    Communication (there’s that word again) with God is a two way street.  He speaks to us through His Word when we come attentively before Him in prayer and through the clear voice of the Indwelling Spirit.  He paid a great price to keep the lines open so that we can experience the joy of being still long enough to know that He is God.” 

Quote of the day:  Joe Stowell

“The joy of hearing His voice is a call you don’t want to miss!”

Bible verse of the day:  Jeremiah 33:3

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You that You always hear my call.  You always have an answer and are willing to show me the things that I don’t know or understand at times.  I pray that I keep the lines of communication open with You and that during times of trials that may come my way, I am able to dial Your number and Hear Your Powerful yet small voice whispering to me and saying, “Everything will be alright!”  Lord, I come attentively to You in prayer and pray that I too keep the distractions at a distance and that I stay focused on the plans that You have set before me.  May I hear the clear voice of the Holy Spirit that dwells deep within me so that I may see all the great and mighty things that You have to show me.  I don’t know what my day may hold, but with You leading my way and directing my path, I shall overcome.  I thank You for this day!

In Jesus Name I pray,

Amen

February 2008

Communication

Story of the day:  Communication

    Communication is so very important.  Max De Pree from the book Leadership is an Art, defines communication as a “prerequisite for teaching and learning.  It is the way that people can bridge the gaps formed from a growing company, stay in touch, build trust, ask for help, monitor performance, and to share their vision.”  Communication is a tool that God has placed among us and if used properly can be a “handy and well-used tool.”

    De Pree uses this little story about his grandson that I think is a great example of communication.  “His grandson once locked himself in the bathroom.  Despite his mother’s best efforts to get the door open, she failed.  She called in the police, who also failed to open the door. (All the while, his grandson kept reaching under the door to touch his mother’s hand.  Talk about good communication!)  Finally his mother called the fire department.  By the time the fire trucks arrived, there was quite a scene on the front lawn.  The fireman promptly broke down the door with their axes, tools they certainly know how to use.  You see, a fireman has two tools, an axe and a hose.  If you call him, you are going to get one.”

    Sometimes what we are trying to get across to others may not be coming across as clear as we would like.  Maybe we mean one thing and are saying something completely different.  The way we communicate or talk to one another is important.  It is important not only to the listener, but to the speaker as well.  How well do you communicate with others.  I have a task for you today to try on someone and see if it works.  I used this when I was teaching and my students loved it.  Take a sheet of paper and write down some simple instructions on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a shake, or something else that we might think was pretty simple.  Once you have completed writing the steps, have someone else follow the instructions word for word.  And although they might have made a sandwich before, make sure that the directions are followed step by step.  Have them do exactly what is written on the paper and see if they can complete the task of making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a shake, or another simple task.  It is pretty fun and amusing to watch. See if you clearly communicated what you are trying to say.  Have a blessed day.

Quote of the day:  Henry Thoreau

“It takes two to speak the truth.  One to speak and another to listen.”

Bible verse of the day:  Hebrews 10:23

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You that You are a great Communicator.  God, communication is a great tool to have and when used can “bridge gaps, help others stay in touch, ask for help, and to share a vision.”  Lord, I pray to be a good communicator to others.  I also pray to be a great listener as well.  I pray that You give me the right tools to express my thoughts and to do it in a way that is clear and doesn’t bring about confusion.  Teach me how to speak the words that You have blessed me with and share them with others that I may share Your Gospel with them in hopes that they may come to know such an Amazing Father Whom I serve.  I thank You for this day!

In Jesus Name I pray,

Amen