February 19 – Get Back Up Again

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I got on the scales the other day and man, was I surprised! I hadn’t weighed in a year and my workout schedule has been a little sporadic, to say the least. I’ve been running and I’ve been swimming. But I haven’t been consistent.

Though I’m not a fanatic about working out, I know if I plan on being around in good health any length of time, it is necessary. All my life, I’ve never really put on much weight, so I didn’t really consider that to be the reason for my pants getting snug. (!) Nonetheless, the extra pounds snuck up on me.

Accomplishing anything of value will require the steady stream of tenacity. No matter how instantaneous success might seem, nothing significant happens overnight. It takes years of root development for a mighty oak to be able to stand strong in the midst of a raging winter storm. The same is true for you and me.

And with all the planning and persistence you can muster, there will be days when you lose your grip and start to slip helplessly out of control. The tiger indeed gets you by the tail. That’s when grace comes in: you rise again to regain your strength, and once more, begin.

For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity. Proverbs 24:16 New International Version

Biblical Meditation: 1 Timothy 4:8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 

February 11 – Soul Virtue

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Growing up, I had some favorite television programs I hardly ever missed because they kept me “in stitches.” But a funny thing happened after we started having kids. Those shows weren’t quite as funny as they were when I was young. I had never recognized their off-handed immoral flavor before. I had changed. I began looking with a different set of eyes. Daddy eyes.

God used this television lesson years ago to awaken me to the necessity of guarding the gates of my soul. Every person has five physical senses (taste, touch, smell, hear, see) that serve as their “information receptors.”

Whatever comes through our senses goes directly to the station where data is stored and processed (the Mind.) From there, the Mind shares it with the Emotions to see what kind of vibes they pick up. And then, the Will issues its “yes or no” vote on the matter. There you have the soul in motion.

In my estimation, the greatest need today is not one of spiritual revival, but of soul renewal. In a lot of ways, this is harder. Spiritual rebirth comes by way of a free gift given by God. Through the precious blood of Jesus, the penalty of sin is washed away for all who believe (Romans 10:9-10, Colossians 1:21-22).

But if you and I are going to see any changes in our attitude or appetites, we will have to cultivate the changes ourselves. This is very similar to our physical health. If I want to avoid the “dunlap” disease (my gut “done lapped” over my pants), I have got to pay strict attention to my shape and my plate.

This is why a couple of congregational worship meetings during the week can only be the beginning of our training. They serve only as a catalyst to what is required daily. Your Soul (Mind, Will and Emotions) is like your belly, it’s always craving something to eat. If you do not master what it takes in, its cravings will master you. And if it does not get a daily dose of vitamin “W” (The Word of God) it can’t properly assess what it needs.

If your relationship with God means anything to you, ask yourself this question: Am I feeding my soul enough of God’s Word daily? Don’t get religious. You don’t have to hide out in the farthest corner of your house all day long feverishly reciting scripture.

Just make God’s Word the standard that governs all other thoughts and ideas presented to your soul. If you will, your soul will begin to take on a virtue you’ve never known before. And like a well-conditioned body, it will bring encouragement and motivation to others without saying a word.

 The Character First I WILL’s for Virtue:

I WILL do what is right and encourage others to do the same.

I WILL guard my eyes, ears, words, and thoughts.

I WILL learn to stand alone.

I WILL abstain from anything which might damage or pollute my mind or body.

I WILL treat others as I would want them to treat me.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2 New International Version

 My son, pay attention to what I say; listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to a man’s whole body. Biblical Meditation: Proverbs 4:20-22

 

 

 

 

February 3 – The “Be” Blessing

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 There is an unprecedented blessing attached to just being. Often it is missed, looked over, or simply ignored in the daily hustle to get things done.

But every living creature has received it. Before any plant, animal or person could do a thing, the “be” blessing was activated.

Take humanity for instance. We are known as human beings, not human doings. Sure, throughout the course of our days on earth we “do” a lot of stuff, but that is not our primary purpose in the presence of our Creator.

He is pleased when we start and end each day with a conscious awareness that it is not what we do for Him that makes the greatest impact. It is, first and foremost, our acknowledgement of what He has done and is doing for us continuously.

We are His workmanship, His masterpiece, His clay! Our job is one of daily rejoicing in being and from that position joyfully molding to the wants and ways of the Master.

In my estimation, it is the “be” blessing which puts the “do” list in its proper perspective!

 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” So the evening and the morning were the fifth day. Genesis 1:22-23

 Biblical Meditation: Isaiah 64:8 Yet, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our Potter, and we all are the work of Your hand.

January 31 – What Is “Acceptable?”

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There seems to be two ways to look at most things in life. What we accept and what we don’t. It just boils down to those two options. Whether you are looking at fixing a house, disciplining your children, or detailing your car, it’s important to know what is acceptable to you, preferably based on God’s Word.

I remember a time when you could eat off the floor of my little Honda Accord when I was 18 years old. Well, God has provided a new and better little Accord, but frankly, you couldn’t pay me to eat off the floor now! I have experienced a shift in my priorities!

Take time to decide what is acceptable to you in the important areas of your life. Is it “acceptable” to live in a miserable marriage, or do you have a part to play in fixing it? Is it “acceptable” to raise children who run around crazy and disrespect you? Is it “acceptable” to spin the gerbil wheel for eighty years and miss your God-given purpose?

 Know that what you decide, as it coincides with God’s way of doing things, will literally change what you see and experience. Pray and ask the Father to guide every quality decision and He will help you begin the small changes that must take place in your heart.

Jen 🙂

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7

 

January 28 – Embarrassed Eyes See Dimly

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Recently, I was going over the account of Israel’s first king with my children and all of a sudden, there it was. God miraculously peeled back the invisible curtain and revealed a truth I had never considered in all the times I have recounted this historical event.

The scene starts with Prophet Samuel giving King Saul some clear-cut instructions from God (I Samuel 15). But instead of obeying, Saul took the liberty to modify the command to fit his own pious plans. Later, when Samuel returned and confronted him, he denied any wrongdoing and justified his actions without even flinching.

And it wasn’t until Samuel told him that God had rejected him as king that he finally said, “Ok, what I did was wrong and I’m sorry, but Samuel, please don’t make me look bad. Come back home with me and acknowledge my victory before all my people (my paraphrase).”

 As I wove into my child-like embellishment all the other times Saul had done a “half-baked” job of obeying God, I saw it. This would-be king was so afraid of falling flat on his face, his vision was impaired. Every order he received was sifted through an internal grid of “no matter what happens, I can’t look bad.”

He cared more about being embarrassed before the masses than he did about being embraced by the Master. Wow! Then I stopped, and reminisced over times in my own life when I was guilty of the same kind of short-sightedness. Ouch!

I admit, I have never relished being the back-end of cruel jokes and jeers. So much so, that as a kid, my parents had to drill into me the absolute necessity of telling the truth. Back then, I would waste no time fabricating or falsifying a few key facts to avoid looking bad.

Even now, it is daily time with God that helps keep my heart delicate and non-deceptive when it comes to obeying His wishes, regardless of how it might make me look before the crowd.

I pray this is not your struggle. I hope when it comes to being embarrassed you are untouchable. But chances are, I am not alone. And if that’s the case, my encouragement is the same as what I offered each of my children (as I took a dose myself).

Acknowledge the tendency before God and ask Him to raid the cupboards of your heart in search of this “vision thief.” Ask Him to set your sight “aright.” That way, you and I don’t wake up one day to find ourselves paranoid and alone, thinking everybody is out to get us (like King Saul). To obey is better than sacrifice!

Then he said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD your God.” I Samuel 15:30 NKJV

Biblical Meditation: Ecclesiastes 5:1 Keep your foot [give your mind to what you are doing] when you go [as Jacob to sacred Bethel] to the house of God. For to draw near to hear and obey is better than to give the sacrifice of fools [carelessly, irreverently] too ignorant to know that they are doing evil.

January 26 – Stay Hungry

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We squint at absolute truth. It is so pure; our minds struggle to contain it.

Truth, real pure truth, does not rely on reason. It doesn’t have to make sense. It is the truth whether it is ever accepted by anyone. Truth need not jockey for a place. Because the truth is the truth, places and people will ultimately be examined under its lens.

When Christ told Nicodemus the truth about the Son of Man (Himself), Nicodemus had no file for it. “The Son of Man must be lifted up; that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” But His statement was the truth, nonetheless.

And this Nicodemus, a great teacher of the Jewish people, pondered and wondered on this truth for many mornings and evenings. Maybe he never truly understood it, but yet he continued to stand under the truth-laden messages of Christ until Christ was “lifted up” on the cross. Perhaps then he caught a glimpse. Who knows?

My prayer for us all is that we may so hunger for truth that we become willing to ignore the abundance of what we do know for a sliver of what we cannot comprehend. Because when this occurs, our pursuit of God will take orbit.

And just as I envision it might have been for Nicodemus, Christ will gently develop room within us to contain what often cannot be explained, in order that it might remain. Oh, that we may hunger!

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. John 3:14-15

Biblical Meditation: Psalm 119:160 The sum of Your word is truth [the total of the full meaning of all Your individual precepts]; and every one of Your righteous decrees endures forever.

 

January 24 – The Truth, and Nothing But the Truth

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 I was “truth-challenged” as a kid. My “make-believe muscles” were super-keen. It was fun to take a story and stretch it as far as I could. But, I found out eventually that I didn’t want the results of that kind of living.

I’ll never forget my first major wake-up call. I was in the sixth grade. During recess, several of the boys and I had a healthy game of football going when all of a sudden one of the new “tough girls” decided she wanted to play.

Things went fine until some of the boys starting being inappropriate with their tackling. Next thing I knew, I was in the office with the rest of the boys. The young lady had run to the principal saying she had been attacked. I knew that I hadn’t touched the girl, but who was going to believe me?

I was known for stretching the truth, especially if there were consequences to pay. Thankfully, I had parents who knew me and my mom started digging until she got to the bottom of the matter. But that day, something changed for me. I still had more growing to do in the area of my “yes being yes,” but I realized people will judge you by the standard you set. The you they know comes from the seeds you sow!

 If Christ is the Lord of your life, you have His nature of truthfulness living on the inside of you. But because you live in a world that thrives on lies, you have to cultivate a true heart by attending to true thoughts and actions. Feeding on God’s promises and precepts and His Word will establish a trustworthy foundation on the inside of you. If you are training up your children, this is an especially important area on which to work.

Here are five “I Wills” from the Character First curriculum that put truthfulness in a “doable” perspective: I WILL always tell the truth, I WILL encourage others to tell the truth, I WILL not cheat or steal, I WILL admit it when I am wrong, I WILL not exaggerate to make things seem different than what they are.

Embodying a lifestyle of the whole truth can only come by the help of God. Let our prayer today be one derived from hearts who love to be beacons of true light in the earth. For others to learn to trust God, they must be able to trust us!

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

Biblical Meditation: Psalm 15:1-3 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman.