Arms of the Almighty

Facing a series of mountains, some nearing the summit, others yet approached, staring at the climb ahead. A yearlong project nearing completion, a six-month struggle turning the corner, settling my mother in a final resting place and my sister boldly facing Goliaths with but a sling and stones, and the Power of God.

Emotions run rampant with steps forward and stumbles backwards, strength and weakness, peaks and valleys. In the midst of uncertainty, the Lord speaks.

No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Joshua 1:5 – NIV

Reading deeper in Joshua it says, “be strong and courageous” in verse 6, then in verse 7, then again in verse 9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NIV

Not just a single halftime pep talk, but a Godly command, and repeated two times over; a message He wanted us to hear loudly today.

Moses had died and Joshua was in charge of God’s people. It was time to cross the Jordan into lands God promised after many years of wandering. I imagine Joshua felt as unprepared for the tasks as I am now. God responded with, “Be strong and courageous,” and said it again, and again. At times, we do not understand what God is saying or just cannot accept it, so He repeats Himself until it sinks in.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” … For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – NIV

If we were truly strong and courageous on our own accord, we would rely on our resources to drive back the challenge before us. God’s power is made perfect in my weakness, so I need to accept my frailty to allow His power to take over, to become perfect. Being fragile is not the problem, accepting it and laying it down as a pathway for God’s great power is the task.

Relying on God’s immeasurably sufficient grace, especially in the face of weakness, allows us to be strong and courageous wrapped in the loving arms of the Almighty.

Be strong, courageous and blessed.

 

If you have been blessed by my scribblings, send me a message, I love to hear good stories. And subscribe so that you will be notified each time my ramblings make it to paper (or this site).

Keep and eye out for the release of my upcoming book Echoes Intertwined, a collection of parables, lessons and God whispers.

 

 

Soundtracks

Rainy Days and Mondays by the Carpenters provides the backdrop as summer showers trace windowpanes; dropping quarters in my inner jukebox to replay over and over. Karen Carpenter’s sweet voice conveys feelings in my soul as she has done many times. Tears well up as my life’s soundtrack recounts bluer days of my past, but also for such lost talent, poetic embers that faded too soon. Young girls longed to be Karen; I emulated her brother Richard, the musical genius that fueled the songs that warmed my heart through colder days.

Soundtracks of my life run through many landscapes: tender songs of Barry Manilow and James Taylor, arena rock of Styx and Rush, buckle shining waltzes of George Strait and Charlie Pride, and Christian music from Amy Grant and Keith Green, to Petra, Third Day, Casting Crowns all the way to Skillet. Each song found me where I was and drew me to where I am, or needed to be.

Soundtracks play in the background, creating a mood or accentuating some event or emotion. Thoughts of my own recall days of peace and angst, joy and sorrow, hearts broken and hearts restored.

Music may drive my mood or be driven by it. Some days need guitar driven, face melting screaming at the wall, others are floating on peace like a river. Days in-between lean toward the purest of praise from Steven Curtis Chapman, Phillips Craig and Dean, Chris Tomlin and Lauren Daigle.

“But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” Psalm 22:3 KJV

I am in great need of the Lord inhabiting my praises, my music, my words, whether spoken, sung or written. May each breath be a soundtrack of praise that the Lord may inhabit all that I am, so that others may know all He is.

Amen…

If you have been blessed by my scribblings, send me a message, I love to hear good stories. And subscribe so that you will be notified each time my ramblings make it to paper (or this site).

Keep and eye out for the release of my upcoming book Echoes Intertwined, a collection of parables, lessons and God whispers.

Retracing Footsteps

A friend posed the question, “If you could go back and change anything in your past, would you? And what would it be?

There were times I have hurt and been hurt, words spoken in anger to me and from me, places I walked right into instead of running away as I should have. I have stumbled over stones, large and small, arisen with skinned knees and bruised shins. The pain I have caused is certainly regretful, but to go back and undo mistakes given the chance? No thank you.

The only way to make footprints is to take a step, one foot in front of the other. Looking back on footsteps retraces where I have been, paths that I have taken, and those that I should have chosen instead. Ruts where I fell into the ditch and the footprints of Jesus, on solid rock, lifting me out of the mire.

“For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Jeremiah 31:34 – NIV

The Lord pulls us from shadows into His light, gracefully forgiving and forgetting our sin, yet He allows old footprints to remain, not as a pathway backwards, but reminders of the struggles He has brought us through to encourage onward and upward.

Experiences, both good and bad have led to where we are and who we are; mistakes are but stepping-stones to lessons learned. As time passes, memories fade, so recalling the pleasant and releasing the painful keeps us from dwelling in darkness. Reaching towards the light allows “The Light” to draw us closer to Him.

The only way to make footprints is to take a step, one foot in front of the other. Take steps.

 

If you have been blessed by my scribblings, send me a message, I love to hear good stories. And subscribe so that you will be notified each time my ramblings make it to paper (or this site).

Keep and eye out for the release of my upcoming book Echoes Intertwined, a collection of parables, lessons and God whispers.

Frequency

In his devotional THE DAILY, Jeromy Deibler, (give his site a visit, you will be blessed) spoke of being in tune with “God’s frequency.” As “frequency” relates to sound waves, it is the rate of vibration of sound traveling through the air, either high pitched or low pitched. God’s frequency is a wonderful thing and most often requires a calmness of mind to find the right channel. At times, it takes being broken to clear the noise and find the gentle voice of God.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”  Psalm 34:18 NIV

“Frequency” in a general sense is when a task is repeated over a certain period of time. Athletes, both physical and intellectual (math-letes) continually practice their particular skill until it becomes second nature where instincts are allowed to take over. Seeking God’s Kingdom should be the same. Frequency of sitting at the feet of Jesus, just listening, can result in blessings of wisdom and a peaceful heart.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 NIV

“Frequency” in asking, seeking and knocking will will lead to being more in tune with the “frequency” of God. When you find that station, mark it as a favorite and return there often.

Be Blessed in Great Measure today.

 

I you have been blessed by my scribblings, send me a message, I love to hear good stories. And subscribe so that you will be notified each time my ramblings make it to paper (or this site).

Keep and eye out for the release of my upcoming book Echoes Intertwined, a collection of parables, lessons and God whispers.

Another Nickel

A while back, I told a story about “a nickel’s worth of grace”. It was end of the month versus end of the money and we were a little short. I prayed for just enough to get by and that a little more would be nice. A check arrived for the exact amount we needed plus five cents, a nickel’s worth of grace. Today, a check showed up in the same amount including the five cents and it took me back to that day when we were in a pinch and the Lord provided. It turns out I learned more than “you asked for a little more, you got a little more; ask bigger next time.” With having a bit of breathing room this time around, I realized the difference had very little to do with my efforts, short of trying to be patient and faithful. Blessings have flowed, thank God, some financially, but mostly in wisdom to make better choices with what I have been entrusted with.

The reminder came at a time when thoughts of previous questionable endeavors began to resurface. “I have learned so much. I could do much better this time.” Similar to the first time around, I prayed for wisdom to discern if this was God’s will or another passing fancy. The answer came in the image of a discarded lottery ticket, dreams of great wealth crumbling under the weight of a nickel and scattered “scratch-off” debris.

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4 – NIV

God’s answer was very clear, “I have delivered you from this, why would you return?

“Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’” Luke 9:62 NIV

If you have been pulled from the mud, why return to the trenches? Recognize solid ground, wipe your boots and move forward. That nickel, thought at the time as a small blessing, became a beacon to rescued places where I should dwell and find shelter in the Hands of the Almighty.

Be Blessed in Great Measure

 

I you have been blessed by my scribblings, send me a message, I love to hear good stories. And subscribe so that you will be notified each time my ramblings make it to paper (or this site).

Keep and eye out for the release of my upcoming book Echoes Intertwined, a collection of parables, lessons and God whispers.

Cat Tails and Counterweights

Orange and white, perched on a handrail with ring-tail hanging, orange eyes stare with sheer indifference until the food dish rattles. A morning “greeting” makes me wonder how comfortable that could be even as his tail kept him in perfect balance.

Arriving at work, a different kind of big yellow CAT, an excavator, uses its tail end to counterbalance the boom arm where the real work gets done. Both cases are examples of God’s great wisdom and power, brilliant in design and stabilized by physics and faith.

The feline tail is comprised of vertebrae wrapped in muscle, an extension of the spine. When a cat moves a foot, the tail shifts the opposite direction to even out the weight and if a cat falls, he can manipulate the tail to roll himself in mid-air, landing on his feet. In the same way, our faith is an extension of our spine, our strength, our support. If used properly, we can regain balance when falling. Recent good decisions were being overshadowed by the less than ideal, until a series of positive phone calls led me back out of the fog, landing on my feet instead of my backside where I probably belonged; brilliant in design and stabilized by faith.

A cat also uses his tail to communicate: straight when happy, flipping when annoyed, positioned for balance or imbalance, all viable clues if we choose to pay attention. Our “tail of faith” can communicate the Grace of God that balances our moods and our feelings; we just have to make use of the gifts God provides. Eventually, like a cat, our natural instincts will take over allowing our faith to keep us balanced and setting us back on our feet when we stumble.

I pray our instincts kick in sooner than later.
Be Blessed in Great Measure today.

 

I you have been blessed by my scribblings, send me a message, I love to hear good stories. And subscribe so that you will be notified each time my ramblings make it to paper (or this site).

Keep and eye out for the release of my upcoming book Echoes Intertwined, a collection of parables, lessons and God whispers.

Dreamers, Makers and Fixers

“If you are not a part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”  Eldridge Cleaver

My father never met a problem he did not want to solve, being “part of the solution.” As a teen, he contracted polio, was bedridden, and told he would spend the rest of his shortened life that way, never to walk again. Unfortunately, many of his roommates succumbed to that fate, but his drive and determination would not allow him to settle for failure. With hard work, crutches and a leg brace, he walked out of the hospital. Such strength meant for greater things.

He married a beautiful, strong woman and raised four children, whose talents range from actor, to teacher, to computer scientist. My father achieved his PhD and worked in the early years of the space program, a place designed for dreamers, makers and fixers.

Whether building space suits or houses, he would gather the available research and dive right in, learning and creating as he went. While that same spirit pulses in my veins, some things I just cannot do; if my father had limitations, I never saw them. I can hammer a nail and make a computer work, yet I struggle most with fixing broken hearts. I may weave together a few words with a melody or two, but I only get as far as eyes or ears; I need God to reach the rest of the way. Hard to admit when I “need” to fix everything.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

The “fixer” in me does not let go easily when I need Christ’s power to finish the job, especially when I am drying tears.

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:17-18

My father would gather the available research and dive right in. The word of God is truth and the only answers I can surely rely on, so prayer and patience are the tools. Accepting the weakness of my “fixer” efforts is the only way to allow the True Maker to intercede.

Blessed are You, God of Creation. Through your great love and mercy, shelter the broken-hearted in the palm of Your hands. Please grant me the strength to accept my weakness and the patience to anticipate healing in your perfect timing. Lord, I am grateful.

Amen ….

Of Streams and Stones

A cool spring afternoon, the sun shining as a soft breeze meanders across the freshly greened landscape; a perfect day for a stroll, hand in hand with my sweet bride. The path follows a small stream bordered with lush greenery, blooming flowers and small trickling waterfalls. Stopping at a footbridge, we sat listening to water cascading over stones both large and small, relishing this quiet time together.

The water’s surface reflected my wife as the beauty that she is; however, my image was obscured by protruding rocks, honest enough as I am hard headed and a bit dense at times. Sharp edges proved these rocks were recently quarried, as natural river rocks are smoothed by years of passing waters, yet here they stood, various size, shape and color, creating a masterpiece in water and stone.

Limestone is comprised of ancient shells and fossils, creatures who once thrived on an ocean floor, dancing with the ebb and flow of the waves of their day. Compressed by the ravages of time, they have become firm foundations for the places we dwell. I, too, am a product of my forefathers (and mothers), who in every size, shape and color thrived in their day. Solidified by faith in the Mighty Hands of the Creator, they became the foundation of all that I am.

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

As with the oddly shaped stones, I have sharp edges as well, being only part of the larger rock face of those who traveled before me. Years of being washed by living waters of faith have softened the rough surfaces with small broken pieces again becoming sediment flowing downstream. Gathering with others, I pray God will form them into foundations for those that will follow.

And that we would continue to be
Blessed in Great Measure

 

I you have been blessed by my scribblings, send me a message, I love to hear good stories. And subscribe so that you will be notified each time my ramblings make it to paper (or this site).

Keep and eye out for the release of my upcoming book Echoes Intertwined, a collection of parables, lessons and God whispers.

Rhythm of Grace

Guitar intro to James Taylor’s You’ve Got a Friend, Elton John’s piano intro to Yellow Brick Road or the driving guitar of DC Talk’s Jesus Freak – rhythms that grab your attention in a few notes. It is a songwriter’s challenge as song skips and channel changes are but a quick button push. It was not as easy when it was on vinyl. It is about finding a rhythm.

Recently, being first to a meeting, my counterpart’s phone lit up and he responded in a “less than Christian” manner. I could sense a pumped up, AC/DC type of guitar riff and he was coming in hot. I whispered “Hosanna” like the crowd two thousand years ago, announcing Jesus as Savior and imploring His help. A quick prayer for all those in the room and the meeting proceeded, concluding with a positive outcome. I had found a rhythm, a rhythm of grace.

“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20

Two eyes, two ears, one mouth – use proportionally.

Should a situation come roaring in like the Rolling Stones’ Jumpin’ Jack Flash, retreat to a quiet spot (even if just a corner of your mind) and whisper “Hosanna” acknowledging Jesus as Savior and asking His help. I have found it settles my mind and focuses my thoughts. A rhythm of grace. Even in quiet times, embrace the rhythm and appreciate the calmness of a sunrise, the sweetness of a smile or the dedication of someone struggling but giving all they have.

Share the grace that we have so abundantly been given by our Heavenly Father, for our rhythms will echo through others whether they be of grace or otherwise. There is a rhythm of grace in the giving as well as receiving.

A rhythm of grace, amplified by prayer, will reverberate more clearly when life surrounds you with wind-up-toy monkeys and clashing cymbals. Rhythms can be drumbeats or heartbeats and when the Holy Spirit touches a heart, the rhythm slows to synchronize with the very heartbeat of God.

Take a breath; find the rhythm. As in all things, a simple prayer makes the difference.

 

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Blessings in Pieces

A mosaic at first glance is a random collection of small stones or ceramic shards, but in the hands of an artist with a greater point of view, an intricate image of beauty emerges. A stained glass window is also a mosaic, dark and light, brilliantly colored pieces of glass, arranged by the hands of a master into a stunning masterpiece.

In the midst of beautiful artwork is evidence that we too are mosaics, fashioned by the mighty hands of The Master, the Creator of all things, beauty in grandeur and in the smallest detail.

If we only focus on the our broken pieces scattered across the floor, we fail to see the people God has sent to envelop us in kindness and care, being held together by His grace, blessings in pieces that create a greater good.

Our hearts, too often stained by failures, do not allow light to shine through, either in or out. However,

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

God graciously forgives our sin and remembers them no more, though we as imperfect creatures are not as lucky. Our failures remain in memories as lessons of our stumbles and how God loves us even still. These spots in our past stain our reflection, but just as in church windows, God surrounds those pieces with radiant colors of His mercy and grace held together by His loving hands.

Passions in our lives struggle like flickering candles in an empty church, cold and lifeless. As the sun rises, God’s light shines through stained glass casting a prism of colors into the darkness of our souls, stirring embers, fanning flames, re-energizing our faith. When shadows of evening consume daylight, the love of God creates inner light, shining out in brilliant colors, guiding those who are lost to a place of comfort and care.

I pray God continues to stir our embers as He sees fit, so that we may become beacons of hope and reflections of His great love.

 

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