August 30, 2016

tuesday text

Thought to share: MY Name is El-Shaddai, meaning “all-sufficient, all-mighty God. I AM all-powerful. I AM able. Nothing is hard or difficult for ME. I perform the impossible. Nothing is outside MY skill-set. I AM the expert at everything. What over-sized problem are you facing? What complex situation causes you anxiety? What fears are pressing in? I AM greater than all these. I AM your El-Shaddai; I AM enough for your every need.

Psalm 93 (NLT)  The LORD is king! He is robed in majesty. Indeed, the LORD is robed in majesty and armed with strength. The world stands firm and cannot be shaken. Your throne, O LORD, has stood from time immemorial. You yourself are from the everlasting past. The floods have risen up, O LORD. The floods have roared like thunder; the floods have lifted their pounding waves. But mightier than the violent raging of the seas, mightier than the breakers on the shore— the LORD above is mightier than these! Your royal laws cannot be changed. Your reign, O LORD, is holy forever and ever.
Jeremiah 32:27 (NLT) I am the LORD, the God of all the peoples of the world. Is anything too hard for Me?

The grass is always greener….

I live in Michigan where the summers are fabulous. We pastor in the town of Fort Gratiot, located in the “knuckle of the thumb” on the shores of beautiful Lake Huron. Our average summer high is 78F and there is always a nice cool breeze coming off the lake (all my southern friends are jealous). We usually have about 9 to 10 inches of rain during these months. As a result, the lawns are the most beautiful shade of green you’ve ever seen. Lush and vibrant, it’s like a soft, emerald blanket covering your yard. Your bare feet don’t mind wiggling its toes through the smooth blades. This Louisiana girl really enjoys these cool, colorful summers.

But, this summer we’ve had a bit of a drought. To date we’ve only had a little more than 4 inches of rain for the summer, and the average daytime high has been 80 degrees. Sadly, without our normal rainfall and an ever so slight increase in temperature, our velvety blanket of green is now yellowish-brown and crunchy. Mowing is at an all-time low. And nobody is going out barefooted.

On the way to get the mail last week, I noticed the sad, dry lawn. Un-mowed for at least a week, it was not in need of a trim anytime soon. As I scanned the pathway to the mailbox, I suddenly spotted weeds. Lots of weeds. And they were green. How is that possible? How could weeds grow – take over the sidewalk –  when the grass is withering from lack of rain?

So, I dug into the issue with extensive research and scientific tools. And Google told me that many weeds don’t need a lot of water to survive. In fact, in the absence of water, they can be tough to kill. You see, for an herbicide to be effective, it needs water. Water “activates” weed-killer.

And, that’s when then it hit me. This is the perfect illustration of our spiritual life.

As believers, our lives grow, thrive, and display beauty by the constant flow of water. The Bible teaches that water is symbolic of both Holy Spirit and the Bible (1Corinthians 12:13 and Ephesians 5:26). It is the constant flow of His Presence in our life that hydrates our soul. It’s being in tune with Him and listening to Him that keeps the soil of our heart prepared and ready to receive the seeds of Truth Abba plants in us. It is the intentional watering of our mind, will and emotions with God’s Word that keeps drought at bay and our garden flourishing with good things – like love, joy and peace.  We are watered as we soak in His Presence, listen to His voice and drink from His Word. It’s Him watering us that keeps our lives growing, colorful and vibrant.

Apart from His Presence and His Word, we will suffer drought. And we’ll feel the impact of the heat of testing and trials. Without His Presence and a consistent deposit of His Word, we become dry, withered and crunchy.

But, no matter how hydrated we stay, we can expect to find weeds sprouting in our lives because the enemy is constantly working to sabotage our garden. In Matthew 13 and Mark 4, Jesus tells the Parable of the Weeds and the Parable of the Soil. In both, weeds represent the work of the enemy. I believe the work of the enemy – or the weeds in our life – are anything that limits our freedom and disconnects us from Him. Weeds could spring from wounds or perceived wounds. They could grow from the lies we believe. They can be found in the fear that creeps into our life and creates the thorns and thistles of anxiety, worry, discouragement and depression. They are seen in the worldly attitudes we develop, causing us to pursue society’s agenda and neglect Abba’s plan for us. Weeds distract us from Abba.

But, if we are fully hydrated, the water of His Presence and His Word will active the “herbicide” that kills off the weeds. Through His Presence and His Word, His grace is activated, enabling us to let go of or remove anything that is detrimental to our walk with Him. By His Presence and the power of His Word, we are set free from bondages, healed from wounds and lies are exposed, giving room for fruit to grow. Living in His Presence and His Word protects our connection to Him, keeping our hearts soft and tender.

But if we are in a drought, these things can’t happen. And even though our garden may suffer the negative effects of drought, the weeds will remain. And grow. And fill up the pathways of our soul. In fact, it seems as though weeds thrive in drought. Before you know it, the fruit is dry and withered – the grass is crunchy – and our garden is full of weeds.

So, I started this blog more than a week ago (don’t judge). And since then, we’ve had some rain. It’s amazing what that rain has done for the grass. It’s started to green up. They even mowed the church grounds on Friday. And we had more rain today. I expect the grass to get even greener.

Unlike the earth’s weather patterns, we have control over our spiritual climate. We are not at the mercy of the elements. When it comes to our spiritual life, we have control. We choose whether or not to spend time with Abba. We choose to soak in His Presence. We choose to drink from the water. We choose. And our choices take us into life that is overflowing or a life of drought. Abba is pouring out His Presence in our lives, we choose to drink it in or not.

If you find you are in a state of drought, no worries. You don’t have to live in weeds. You don’t have to be dry and crunchy. The resolution is easy: drink. Open your life to the outpouring of His Presence. Spend time with Him. Go to the well daily and drink deeply. Pour the Word into your soul. Soak in Him. It won’t be long until you find yourself living in plush, green pastures, where weeds fade away.

It’s amazing. The grass is always greener where you water it.

August 23, 2016

tuesday text

Thought to share: I bring you good news. I AM comforting you, healing your broken heart and setting you free. I AM working in you and your circumstances. I AM giving you beauty for ashes and exchanging your mourning for blessing. I AM giving you celebration instead of despair. I give you hope.
So choose to partner with ME in this and let ME do this work in you.

Isaiah 61:1-3 (NLT) The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, for the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the LORD’s favor has come, and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.  To all who mourn in Israel, HE will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning,  festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for His own glory.
1Peter 1:3-4 (NCV) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In God’s great mercy He has caused us to be born again into a living hope, because Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Now we hope for the blessings God has for His children. These blessings, which cannot be destroyed or be spoiled or lose their beauty, are kept in heaven for you.