SATURDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2016
To close out one year and to begin the next with the Prince of Peace in total control is such a wise way to venture this road of life. Even wiser, yet more challenging, is to move from one day to the next, moment by moment, breath by breath, staying decisively, intentionally in His peaceful Presence. This is not only spiritually wise, it is physically, emotionally, mentally and relationally wise.
For me, it’s a matter of pacing myself with Him, so as not to run ahead or lag behind the Prince of Peace. Like the synchrony of the soul, staying in rhythm with the beat of His Heart means I am pacing with His Pulse of Peace. Peace has a rhythm of its own that echoes with the nuiances of everything He is and everything I need Him to be. From moment to moment, step by step, He pulses peace throughout my entire being, filling all that I am with all that He is!
Pacing with the Prince…dmc
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 30, 2016
The unique path God has each of us on can be a strange mix of companionship and solitude. I feel so blessed with the fellowship I share with others and yet I am keenly aware of the mysterious solitude I also experience. I’ve talked with seasoned saints who have also experienced this dual dynamic. It seems to be the profound reality of an intimate, yet involved, relationship with Jesus. He pulls us away to Himself, yet puts us in the midst of others.
The secret, sometimes fragile, balance within myself has been to stay tightly connected to Him, whether I’m in a place of solitude or in the midst of a multitude. I know without a doubt, my goal and inner compass is set, no matter where I am or who I am with I’m…
Staying Close to Him…dmcIt reminds me of the following.
Watch – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qrBYbjSg3kA&feature=related
I Just Want To Be Where You Are – by Don Moen
I just want to be where You are,
dwelling daily in Your presence
I don’t want to worship from afar,
draw me near to where You are
I just want to be where You are,
in Your dwelling place forever
Take me to the place where You are,
I just want to be with You
Chorus -I want to be where You are,
dwelling in Your presence
Feasting at Your table,
surrounded by Your glory
In Your presence,
that’s where I always want to be
I just want to be,
I just want to be with You
I just want to be where You are,
to enter boldly in Your presence
I don’t want to worship from afar,
draw me near to where You are
(Coda) Oh, my God,
You are my strength and my song
And when I’m in Your presence
Though I’m weak You’re always strong
(Ending) I just want to be
I just want to be with You
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2016
Witnessing both the tough and the tender sides of trust can impact one forever. Tough trust hangs on through fierse adversity. Tender trust cautiously reaches out with a trembling hand and heart. This came to life when one of our own, a precious 11 week old baby, was ushered into heaven..many decades and dreams too soon! He was one of three boys, born a triplet, into a loving family with two older sisters. This little guy impacted many lives in a very short amount of time. Without ever saying a word, he filled our hearts with the Presence of Jesus.
So, little Jeremiah was to celebrate Jesus’ birthday, in heaven, far before he could ever have a birthday of his own. His heart-broken, grieving parents leaned hard on Jesus “with every fiber of their being,” with every ounce of their faith.
Letting go of such a precious gift required a tough trust emerging from very vulnerable, tender trusting hearts. Their closing memorial song stirred us to keep trusting even when we’re “found in the desert place” or walking down “the road marked with suffering.” Yes, our hearts can “choose to say…
Blessed Be Your Name”…dmc
(Blessed Be Your Name, by Matt Redman)
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2016
Fear has a way of capturing our attention and our ambitions. Once sabotaged by fear, we feel trapped, immobilized, maybe even totally defeated and depleted.
However, with God’s help we can capture our fear and use it to capacitate, or enable, our attention and ambitions to be even more creative and productive. How is this done?
One day I observed that when I was fearful I was also imagining the worst or most painful outcomes. On the other hand, when imagining the best or most productive outcomes, I was left energized and far more creative. While the solution was fairly simple – start envisioning the best outcomes rather than the worst – remembering to put it into practice is not always so simple.
I need to basically believe more in what God is saying and doing (blessings and miracles) than in what my fear says and does to me. Fear shouts at me from various sources; like the news media, or others’ opinions, and even my own self-doubt. However, God generally whispers to me through meditative moments in His Word, encouraging encounters, and in the hidden hopes and dreams deeply tucked in my own heart.
It all comes down to how I am going to use my God-given gift of imagination…. what am I going to envision? Am I going to be captured or am I going to be capacitated? Encumbered or encouraged? Fear-filled or faith-filled?
Incapacitating my fear & Capacitating my faith…dmc
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2016
One of the activities I often do, with people whose lives feel out-of-control, is what I call “The Wheel of Life.” Each spoke of the wheel represents an area that can enhance one’s life. After they have assigned a number from 0 – 10 to each area, I draw in the outside rim of their wheel, as it relates to the assigned numbers. Instantly, the out-of-balance areas are revealed. Their wheel will reflect the areas that need to be modified or enhanced.
A well-balanced life offers a healthy ebb and flow of peace and productivity, quiet and activity, work and play, personal time and professional time, family life and social life, and most of all, time alone with God in His Word and with His people.
Personally, we’ve always had to carefully carve out quality time to spiritually refresh ourselves, strengthen our marriage/family and nourish our ministry. To do that, we have to cut into time that could be spent doing other very good, even noble things. Sometimes that can be painful… like not participating in something we’d like to do, or are asked to do, or cannot afford to do or simply cannot do because of previous commitments.
But choosing to say a Healthy “No” allows the opportunity to say a Healthy “Yes” to a more balanced, productive, peaceful, rewarding life.
I don’t want to just be busy, but I want to be blessed. A balanced life blesses me and allows me to more readily bless others… including those who live under my own roof!
Realigning my Wheel of Life…dmc
MONDAY, DECEMBER 26, 2016
Some years ago I realized that it was far easier for me to believe that God would love YOU than it was for me to believe that God would love ME! Somehow I had come to a very flawed assumption that God’s love for others was much more certain than God’s love would be for me.
(I’ve been inclined to see my own flaws and shortcomings much more readily than seeing others’ and I think, in a twisted kind of way, I’d overlaid that inclination on to my relationship with God, also.)
One of the passages from today’s devotional helped me to understand this from a new perspective.
1 John 4:16-17 “And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; for we are as He is in this world.”
Applying these biblical insights challenged my flawed assumptions because:
1. Although I may KNOW about God’s Love that does not mean I really BELIEVE it.
2. I must move WHAT I know about God’s Love to a place WHERE I believe it.
3. Knowing about God’s love and PERSONALLY believing it means I process that truth in a different region of my brain where cognitive concepts can be PERSONALLY applied!
4. Taking the truth of God’s Love to a new level means I have infused His Love into every aspect of my life…not just as a FACT in my head but as a ACT of my heart.
5. I must intentionally decide to believe MORE IN, and respond MORE FROM, the perspective of God’s Love than from my flawed assumptions that undermined my personal application of God’s Love.
6. God’s Love allows me to EMBRACE “perfect love” which offers me confidence and security rather than fear or doubt. (I John 4:18)
7. God’s Love ACTIVATES a new purpose for living…giving God’s Love to those around us. Being AWARE, as an extension of Him, that “we ARE as He is in this world!” (I John 4:17)
These Truths have challenged me. I must receive AND believe God’s Love to be…
Philanthropically & Practically His…dmc
(Wow, that’s a lot on the day after Christmas, with a happy heart & full tummy!)
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 25, 2016
The wait is finally over… Merry Christmas!! We’ve spent so much time running here and there, in and out of stores, bustling around in a flurry of preparation for Christmas. With all the hustle we’ve been forced to wait and wait in long checkout lines, traffic stops and in not-so-fast-food restaurants. We’ve waited for packages to be delivered. We’ve waited for Christmas TV specials to air and we’ve waited for loved ones to safely arrive home. Lots of running, lots of waiting, lots of commotion and endless checklists. Yet, all along we know it’s really all about HIM, after all it’s HIS birthday! We’ve just been so caught in the chaos.
It’s good to recognize that someday, in eternity, we will have reason to celebrate not only His Birth Day but His Return Day! What a Heavenly CHRISTmas that will be…in His Presence!
Celebrating Jesus & Waiting to see Him…dmc
Have a Blessed Merry CHRISTmas & Watch this – http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=9MB1EFNU
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2016
Perhaps the greatest truth behind the Christ Child, in the manger at Christmas, is “Christ in you, the hope of Glory!” To find Christ we do not need to search the heavens or travel half a world away, like the Wise Men of the East. Nor, do we need to see angels or hear their angelic songs, like the Judean Shepherds. Nor, do we need to legislate, threaten and interrogate, like some pompous King Herald.
To find Christ I only need to consider the state of my own soul…to look within! The journey inside my own soul, as a committed Christian, should testify to the certainty and significance of a Soul Saving Christ! The most compelling advocate is the presence of Christ, within the depths of my own soul, where sacred history is confirmed in personal reality.
The glorious Christmas gift is “Christ in you” inspiring hope…
Unwrapping Glorious Hope…dmc
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2016
Trust is a phenomenal entity. It can be both surprisingly strong and frightfully fragile. During a single day of counseling sessions I can observe the extremes of trust and it’s undeniable repercussions. When trust is strong, confidence grows. When trust is frail, suspicion grows. The repercussions can vary from a quiet peace to boiling turmoil.
One decisive factor that can make all the difference is…knowledge.
The more shared information, transparent exchange, honest communication… the more one will know and the more likely trust can grow and be nurtured into a fruitful relationship.
The same is true with our relationship with the Lord. The more we learn about Him, the more we experience Him, the more we come to really know Him…the more our trust can be firmly established.
The more we nurture trust the more trust will nurture us!
Trusting in my Savior, Lord and Friend – Jesus…dmc
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2016
One of my favorite Christmas passages, that also challenges me the most, is the angel’s response to Mary in Luke 1:35. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.”
When God’s Word moves deeper and deeper into our hearts there can be seasons of being “overshadowed” that seem to overtake us. They are seasons of spiritual conceiving. Sometimes it can feel like a fog has settled in. Not a dark, foreboding fog, but a nurturing, comforting fog like the overshadowing wings of the Almighty found in Psalm 91.
When “the power of the Most High” overshadows me, I sense a conception of new life, a new work or adventure in God’s Presence. I believe God desires to conceive new dimensions of His Life in each of us often. Much like having Christmas all year long…every day can offer moments of birthing Jesus into our humble settings, at home, work, school, in relationships, conversations, difficult situations and various opportunities all around us.
This world needs to experience Jesus and under the anointing of the Holy Spirit we can birth Jesus into the hearts and lives of others. How can my actions, my words, my gifts or talents bring Jesus to life in the lives of those around me?
Unto you is born this day, in the city where you live, a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you, you shall find the babe wrapped in human flesh lying in a difficult situation before you. And there will be a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the Highest and on earth Peace, Goodwill toward men.” (My modification of Luke 2:11-14)
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2016
2 Corinthians 5:7 tells us “we walk by faith, not by sight.” It’s much easier to walk by sight – being able to SEE where we’re going. Walking by faith presents a much more complicated challenge when we are required to step into the unknown, the unseen, the unfamiliar. It’s uncomfortable and so unnatural, awkward and foreign to our human senses. In fact, faith does not make a lot of sense! My senses may scream “Why?” “What now?” or “No way!”
It reminds me of being blindfolded, yet in motion. I have learned that faith is not a single act. It is a series of continuing actions, putting one foot in motion, stepping forward, traveling on in spite of doubt, questions, heartache or fear. My faith may merely crawl along at times, inching its way forward, but its very presence is evidence of an unfolding miracle. So, no matter how fragile or weak, I will go on with or without the blindfolds!
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2016
Just because we CAN do something does not mean we SHOULD. Jesus could have escaped humiliation, misunderstanding even death, but He didn’t! Why? Because He was committed to something far greater than His own desires.
Whenever we choose to avoid doing something that involves a long-term cost that will exceed a momentary advantage, we are operating out of a higher motivation that will reap higher rewards. Jesus recognized that the long-term cost of our eternal damnation was far more compelling than the cost of sacrificing His personal comfort and earthly life.
Jesus became not only our Saviour, but our Inspiration to live a life controlled by purposes far greater than the here-and-now. Our ultimate destination is worth every healthy “no” we must activate in order to enjoy a heavenly “yes” in eternity!
Satan wants to manipulate and tempt us to indulge our selfish desires without recognizing the potential long-term costs. For example, during this Christmas Season, with all the temptations to indulge and buy without restraint, we would be wise to consider the long-term costs of overspending. What a privilege to think that even our spending habits can be an example of godly self-control that proclaims His “glorious Presence” in the midst of a debt-driven world.
Enjoying the Benefits of Saying “No”…dmc
MONDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2016
I am especially good at over estimating what needs to be done and under estimating how long it will take to get it all done. This tendency can leave me frustrated with the many things that must be left undone at the close of the day.
During the holidays there are so many additional activities that the days can be overfilled with “To Do” lists that push out the most important absolutes of life. Forgetting that my “ultimate goal is living close to (and) responsive to” Jesus can leave me feeling empty in the midst of all the clutter.
One year things were decisively different… We made a family decision to only give gifts to the little ones and all the rest of us contributed to a family in Africa, purchasing them a cow to suppliment their meager financial situation. Every Christmas since then we have decisively revamped and modified our plans, we think it has lended to a much healthier, happier….maybe even holier holiday!?
Enjoying each other & Jesus much more…dmc
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2016
Our son, Charles, owns and runs 24 hour fitness centers. He interviews clients and then pairs them up with a trainer that will be best suited for each. The role of the personal trainer is critical to maximize the client’s training efforts in order to see optimal results, as long as the client is teachable and willing to learn. It’s a rich opportunity to achieve a healthy lifestyle change.
The same is true for us spiritually. 2 Corinthians 4:17 tells us that we are in an ongoing workout where the troubles of today are producing an “eternal weight of glory.” Every trial, affliction or trouble we shoulder today can actively build eternal muscle for us in eternity!
It’s as if the attitude and manner in which I bear the burdens of this day will directly impact my eternal spiritual physique.
Our son has won various competitions in bodybuilding and has broken weightlifting records, not because he is naturally so strong, but because he daily and faithfully works out, exerting himself and pushing past what’s comfortable to what’s challenging.
The “eternal weight of glory” we will one day achieve comes through a commitment to be spiritually fit and faithful in the demands and disciplines of daily life. Being “grateful for a problem” changes us. It tutors us to have a “thankful attitude” and a heavenly perspective!
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2016
This devotional reminded me of the two deeply discouraged disciples walking down the road to Emmanus after the crucifixion of their beloved leader and friend, Jesus. Their conversation was filled with disappointment concerning the events over the last few days. What they had hoped for was not to be. Their expectations had been met with an overwhelming defeat…the death of their leader and the death of their dream!
In the midst of it all, a stranger stepped alongside, paced with them, and joined in their discussion. It was not until much later, in the evening, that their eyes were opened and they realized… they’d been in the midst of an unfolding miracle… the resurrection of the impossible… a Risen Saviour!
This story from Luke 24:13-35 holds several great insights that can be applied to our journey as present-day followers of Christ.
1. While the death of a dream may leave us discouraged, we do not need to be hopeless.
2. When we hyper-focus on disappointments we tend to overlook divine appointments!
Somewhere along the way “Joy and Peace” come alongside and the Presence of Jesus can cause “our hearts (to) burn within us as He talks to us.” (Luke 24:32)
I’ve had Emmaus experiences that are so disappointing and so painful that I could not see how any good would ever come from it. But, somewhere along the way, my heart begins to “burn” with His Presence and I know Jesus is somewhere nearby and what seems impossible will become my new reality.
Emmanuel means “God with us.” That’s what I need to focus on when I’m “feeling sluggish, inadequate” and deeply disappointed. But, today, I am…
Enjoying Emmanuel on the Emmaus Road ..dmc
Having a good work ethic generally means one is dependable, trustworthy, willing to go the extra mile and possesses basic core values that equip us to be a valuable contributor to the cause, effort or task at hand.
However, we’ve all watched how someone can become so task-oriented that they overlook the value of others and the rich relationships right in front of them.
One of the best ways I’ve found to maintain ethical balance is to stay solid in my primary relationships… with God, husband & family. When I’m listening to God’s directives then I tend to do better listening to others, responding out of wisdom…not just from a manipulating “work ethic” or from unreasonable flawed expectations that tend to lead to burn-out and out-of-balanced living.
Having a balanced lifestyle takes intentional effort and I much prefer the option of an ethical equilibrium where God, spouse, family, friends & purposeful endeavors are divinely…
Balanced and Blessed…dmc
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2016
When I was little I would wrestle with homesick feelings whenever I had to stay overnight away from my family. If I had my little sister with me, I could do much better.
There have been times as an adult – when I’ve had to be hundreds of miles away from home all by myself in an airport, hotel or conference – when I’ve had similar lonely feelings that have caused a sick, sinking feeling inside. Then, just hearing a familiar voice, or seeing a familiar face (on my iPhone) can change the atmosphere in and around me.
That’s the way it’s suppose to be with Jesus. He’s longing for us. We’re longing for Him. Spending time in His Presence lets me know that heaven will be a great homecoming experience!
A great book, made into film, Heaven is For Real, by Todd Burpo (Thomas Nelson, 2010) will inspire you and make you happily homesick for heaven where “nobody is old and nobody wears glasses!” (back cover quote)
Holding Heaven in my Heart…dmc