March 3 – Musical Chairs

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The business of life swirls on and if you don’t move out of the way, in many cases, you get ran right over.   So, it is true, all of us have “business” to be about and yet, there is a divine purpose connected to an eternal clock ticking in the background of the daily hustle and bustle.   Since the ticking is not loud and obnoxious, it is often drowned out by the sounds of cultural norms and common noises.

But when asked what’s most important, many would unequivocally say the quiet ticking of eternity. So why are we so often consumed by the here and now and thus unaware of the ageless sound of God’s plans unfolding?

I believe it’s because the process is much like musical chairs. Musical chairs is one of those games that draws a crowd wherever played, especially if there are cakes or pies to be won. The game starts with a set amount of chairs, adequate for most of the contestants to get a seat.   And as the music plays, the people meander around the chairs in some sort of rhythm. But inevitably the music will stop and all must scramble to find a seat. And the game continues in this way until all but one contestant is left.

Hearing God’s ticking at the proper time, for me, is kind of like that process. I must move in sync with the motion of the day. But I must set my eyes and ears on the sound of the “music in the background.” When it is time to act, I must not be late or aloof.   True, the Bible speaks of a day when our Savior will come and wrap up what we call “today.”

For every day, in every life, He stops the music and speaks to us His direction. It is our habitual response to those often “quiet” directions that will prepare us for the day the whole world will know this game of musical chairs is finished!   For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; Matthew 24:38

Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

February 28 – Special Access

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Learning curves are wonderful. They can be wild and wooly rides, but they are oh, so needed in this life. My husband experienced one of these early on in our country move.

We had decided to ride our bikes one evening here close to our house. My dad has a group of cows and calves and one bull in the pasture right next to us. As we rode that evening, we made our way down the road right by the cow pasture. Animals can really tell you a lot about life, by the way.

They are easy to read most of the time. In this case, the cows looked at us like a dogs at a new pan. They all looked up, stopped eating, and stood motionless as we, the “strangers,” rode right by their territory on funny, shiny metal things that moved in circles (our bikes). They were obviously thinking, “We have no idea who you are, you look strange, and we are watching you and guarding our babies like hawks until you make your happy way back down the road. (The bull didn’t look like he was saying anything.)”

Lorenzo was asking me a ton of questions as we made our way back and we laughed about their obvious opinion of us as “foreigners.” The next day, he happened to help my dad with some cattle chores on another place. He watched as he has several times as my dad’s truck gets into view and suddenly the cattle are surrounding the truck, hoping for some cubes (kind of like a treat that he gives them.)

My dad asked Lorenzo to get something from the truck after they unloaded some hay. As he was trying to walk, the cows were so close to him he could have petted them, not to mention how close they were to him! He was a bit unnerved at their total abandonment in his presence, each of them weighing around 800 lbs. and being so friendly, remembering the evening before! But being with the owner of the herd in the white truck made all of the difference in the world. He had gained special access!       

This is a beautiful truth! Jesus is the One who gives us special access to the Father. His sacrifice gave us the right to walk right in to the throne of God as His children, free and without guilt. When we confess him as Lord, something inside of us snaps together and we literally become a “new creation.”

This transaction gives us the liberty to walk as He asks us to walk in this life with the garment of a Father’s unconditional love wrapped around our shoulders. How wonderful, how marvelous!!!!   May we never lose sight of this awesome gift, and may we convince others in the way we live and the way we love that they, too, can have special access to the God and Father of all creation!

Jennifer

He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Luke 13:24

 Biblical Meditation: John 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me..

 

February 25 – He Sees and Knows

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I can be guilty of having temper tantrums from time to time. And although I am not proud of it, they tend to encroach upon me just about the time things are going pretty good. Sometimes, all Hades breaks loose and I find myself questioning God as to “why,” but not so much anymore. I’ve lived long enough to know it’s usually darkest before the dawn and if you just hold on awhile, things will get brighter.

What tends to trigger the oversized baby in me is a sense of not being understood by those closest to me. Here’s an example: I have a certain way I fold my t-shirts. Not a big deal, normally, but definitely a preference.

On most occasions I am just grateful when Jen or one of the children goes the extra mile and does mine. But there are those rare moments when that little voice says, “If they really cared about you, they would know how you like your shirts folded.” If I don’t nip it in the bud, that kind of thinking will hit me in the backside before I know it, leaving a whole lot of precious people feeling unappreciated. I know, you can’t relate…

The fact of the matter is every human being can and will feel that no one truly understands them at times. And guess what? They are right! We are so unique and our ways are very individual. God made us that way on purpose. One, a puzzle won’t come together if all the pieces are just alike. And two, if we had someone on planet earth that knew us “picture-perfectly,” we would never need to seek the face of our Creator. He alone knows and sees who we are and where we are headed. All others are His instruments to help get us there.

I love how Nathanael said to Jesus, “How do You know me?” Jesus wasted no time on frivolous introductions, He spoke in a way the man would know He knew him; but how? And here’s the nugget I encourage you to ponder with me and my family today: Jesus stares into Nathanael’s eyes and He says, “I see you! And I know you better than anyone, including yourself. Don’t worry; what I see in you doesn’t change what I think about you. So, if you feel the need to have a pity party, no problem; fits don’t faze Me. I’ll still be around when the smoke clears. Then, I will remind you that in Me alone lies perfection, not people.” He sees!

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!” Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you. John 1:47-48 NKJV

 Biblical Meditation: Psalms 139:1-4 O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. (Check out all of Psalm 139!)

 

February 20 – Depth of Perception

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God’s Word is like a time machine. If you spend morning, noon and night reading it, thinking on it, talking about it, digging around in it, memorizing it, you will, at some point, go for a trip. And you will see things you never imagined. Most importantly, you will see answers.

I guess that’s why I’m a bit strange to some. Back when I had no time for the Bible, I was in the dark on a whole lot of things. And fear of the known and unknown dictated much of my behavior. But one day, somebody told me the Bible contained God’s Word, written straight to me… and that through it He gave insight to all who gave it priority.

I figured I had nothing to lose, so I went to work. At first, my mind struggled. Focus was a big issue because the words didn’t instantly start painting pictures. I realized later this was largely due to the dulling process of modern entertainment. My mind was used to sitting back while all the creative work of perception was done without my participation.

As I stayed with it, however, something remarkable began to happen. I would lose track of time and I would come away with marvelous insights. The Bible began to come alive to me with practical wisdom for my everyday life.

 I truly believe creativity is dictated by the depth of one’s’ perception. To the degree in which I can see, I can achieve. The creative soul starts with a notion (thought) that soon becomes motion (action). And that’s exactly what happens when God’s Word becomes a way of life for you and me.

Creative success follows. Why? Then you and I can see where we’re supposed to be going. So today, take a ride in God’s time machine. See what He has in store. Don’t worry; He’ll get you back in good time!

This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good success. Joshua 1:8 Amplified Bible

Biblical Meditation: Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

 

February 5 – Divine Connections

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My life is made up of a series of divine connections. As far back as I can remember, I can see a glorious thread of people, places, and things that were strategically placed in my path, ordering my steps.   Going to college in Weatherford, Oklahoma, represents one of those major connections for me.

For all practical purposes, I was not academically qualified to advance into higher education after high school.   My test scores were low and I had not taken some of the necessary basics to enter college as a freshman. But God had placed Donna Hillis in my life to assist Him with getting me to the next phase of the journey.   Donna was my closest friends’ mother and she had witnessed my life take shape over the course of about four years. She knew the “good, the bad and the ugly” of my story. Most importantly, she knew God had a plan for my life that involved me leaving Oklahoma City and getting a college education, regardless of my test scores.

To this day, I don’t know what allowed Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU) to give me a shot, but I am very grateful. Five years after arriving on that campus, I graduated with honors, but more importantly, I was on track for a head-on collision with destiny.   It was at Southwestern that I answered the call to ministry. It was at Southwestern that I discovered my gift of communication. And it was at Southwestern that I met my best friend, Jennifer Travis.

Only God knew this little girl from Custer City and I would one day marry and begin to build a family of many precious children who are even now bridging gaps and mending hearts all over this planet. I didn’t have a clue.   And all of that was connected to Miss Donna’s willingness to play her part in my story.

God has connected you and me to somebody’s story because this life is just an over-sized jigsaw puzzle. So never underestimate those simple little nudges spurring you to lend a hand.   Play your part and God will play His…the results could change somebody’s world!  

Led by the Spirit, he entered the Temple. As the parents of the child Jesus brought him in to carry out the rituals of the Law, Simeon took him into his arms and blessed God: God, you can now release your servant; release me in peace as you promised. With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation; it’s now out in the open for everyone to see: A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations, and of glory for your people Israel. Luke 2:27-32

Biblical Meditation: John 17:20-23, Romans 12:1-5

January 30 – The “God-Kind” of Nature

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Not long ago, my son showed me where a mother ringneck dove had built a nest in a tree close to our home.

She was so beautifully camouflaged by the branches and leaves I could barely see her. There was something very “Genesis” about this momma and her nest. Nobody had to tell her what to do; instinctively she found the proper location, at the proper time, to do what she was created to do.

In my estimation, that’s so simple, we almost need help to misunderstand it. The activities of the birds and the fish are seasonal reminders to those who choose to pay attention. A Creator crafted all that exists to function according to supernatural specifics.

Many of us call that “nature.” And if that Creator thought enough of doves and dolphins to give them built-in “honing devices” to operate in certain seasons, surely He has not forgotten us! On the contrary, there is more than ample evidence surrounding us that is literally shouting His love for us.

So the next time you take note of the many minnows teaming in the streams, or the robins singing their morning song, remember…you, too, were created to do that thing only you can do. It’s your “God-kind” of nature.

 Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:20-21 NKJV

Biblical Meditation: Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.

 

January 29 – He’s Just My Dad

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When I was a kid, there was a popular 7-UP commercial featuring the welterweight boxing champ of the day, Sugar Ray Leonard. The soft drink company capitalized on the father-son relationship between Ray and Ray, Jr., his son.

The climax came when a group of young boys came through the boxing gym, spotting Sugar Ray in the ring. After recognizing him, they shouted, “It’s the champ!” And Little Ray came back with a simple, “Naaah, it’s just my dad.” What an impression that made on my ten year-old mind.

At the heart of every person is a child longing to know their daddy better than anyone else does. And that little person also wants to be the one who says to the whole world, “Hey, if you want to meet my pops, you’ll want to follow me, because he’s my dad.”

This, in a nutshell, is the beauty of Christ. Through Him, we can waltz right in and take a seat in the lap of the Creator of the Universe. To the world and all that’s in it, God is often known as the Invisible, All Powerful One. But to Christ, He is Abba (another way to say Daddy!).

For all who have discovered the marvelous Christ-connection to God, He is your Papa too. And that places you in a privileged position; you are “Junior” to the world. Now, while the masses seek a glance of the One True God, you can help them out. Yes, He is God, and yes, He is awesome. But to you, He’s Dad!

No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. John 1:18

Biblical Meditation: Romans 8:15-17 Message This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!