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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Can You See Him Now?

Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Each of us sees God differently, according to our experience with Him, our need at the moment, or the things that currently captivate us. 

This doesn't mean He changes, like shifting sand. It means that He meets every need where we are at any given moment in time. It isn't necessary, nor even desirable that we all see Him the same way. What is necessary and desirable, is that we see Him and that we see Him as the source and supply for every need.
  • So, what is it that you need? Strength? Guidance? Friendship? Health? All of these are available, if only we would see Him as our source. The relationship Jesus came to give us, in the covenant He established, provides for these and more. 
The problem always comes down to one thing: how we see Him. This is why, on at least one occasion, Jesus asked His followers, "Who do you say that I am?" 

It's an important question, especially when we're hearing a lot of opinions about Him. The truth is, is if we do not see Him as necessary or vital, He will not be. 

We all go astray in this. 

It was true back in the day of Isaiah. In chapter 53 of his writings, we read (verse 6), "All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way..." (NAS).

And it is still true. 

We go bouncing along in the business of life and suddenly, we don't even know what hits us, but we're out of the ballpark.

How much more true today than it was a few thousand years ago, we can only guess. We are bombarded constantly with bad news, with ugly reports, with horrific events, with assaults against our morality, our intellect, our peace, our faith. We are steadily immersed in a sea of the way mankind without God lives. We look for models within church buildings and we find forms of godliness.
  •  Maxx Lucado writes: "Sin sees the world with no God in it...a godless attitude leads to godless actions...the sinful mind dismisses God...his counsel goes un-consulted; his opinion, unsolicited."
If we do not see Him, we may not be looking, for in the midst of all the world and its troubles, He has promised never to leave us or forsake us. He will be there for us to turn to, if we only will. When we want to turn and run, if we run to Him, He will turn us around and tell us to stand. He will be our strong tower and our shield. We will look for those who oppressed us and we won't be able to find them.

Isaiah 41:10'Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.' 11"Behold, all those who are angered at you will be shamed and dishonored; Those who contend with you will be as nothing and will perish. 12"You will seek those who quarrel with you, but will not find them, Those who war with you will be as nothing and non-existent.…(NASB)

Monday, February 9, 2015

Empty Shells

It always seems impossible until it’s done. — Nelson Mandela
When the announcement for an art class I had desired to take arrived only a few days prior to the start date, my first reaction was, "I can't." It had been a few years since I'd done anything more than sketches, and now, with a full-time teaching job, professional development to complete for my part-time graduate-level instructor position, housework, and time for family and a few friends, I couldn't imagine being able to add it to my calendar on such short notice. But I really, really wanted to. So, I prayed. 

In a matter of a few minutes, the tide began to turn. I started to see possibilities. The class was only a month long, which would leave me another month to complete my professional development. The household chores could be accomplished in the evening after work and on painting breaks, and family and friends could be accommodated in brief interludes. 

The next barrier was to inventory my art supplies and purchase what I didn't have. Through the blessing of the Internet, all this was accomplished in a few hours. As I settled down to start the first assignment, the delivery truck arrived with the last few colors for the palette. 

Still, I could not have been more anxious.

"I can't do this without you, Lord. I know you have brought me to this point, but I can't seem to get started. Show me how. Show me where to begin." I began to thank Him for the supplies, for the timing, for His leading, for my understanding husband, for the opportunity. Then I dipped the brush in the water. It was, after all, a class. I was taking it to learn and learning involves mistakes.

Immediately I understood. Learning, though I enjoy it now, has always been a challenge for me. If it didn't come naturally, I shied away. I had no confidence in my ability. As time went on, there were things I just had to do. And because I had to, I did. I overcame the anxiety by focusing on the one thing I had to do next, one step at a time. 

Trusting God to show me the first step in the painting assignment, and following Him to the next step, it became a time of communion with Him, of prayer for others, of worship, and of revelation. I am certain that is exactly how it was meant to be. I'm also fairly certain that this is how God has made each of us to be. Not anxious, necessarily, but needy. We don't want to be and we are inundated with messages that tell us we shouldn't be. That's the world we were born into. But, it wasn't always so. In the beginning, man needed God for everything. It was a sweet communion until the idea of self sufficiency was born. 

Personally, I'm glad to let that self sufficiency thing die. Being an empty shell is a beautiful thing. 

The finished painting - Empty Shells

Psalm 37:4-5
Take delight in the LORDand he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the LORDTrust him, and he will help you (The Living Bible).

Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life (New Living Translation).

Jeremiah 17:7-8
Happy are those whose trust is in the Lord, Who rely on the Lord.
They will be like trees planted by the streams, whose roots reach down to the water.
They won’t fear drought when it comes; their leaves will remain green.
They won’t be stressed in the time of drought or fail to bear fruit (Common English Bible).

John 15:5
I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you abide in Me and I in you, you will bear great fruit. Without Me, you will accomplish nothing (The Voice).

Excerpt from
While it Is Called Today
a 30-day photo devotional
by Dee Marvin Emeigh

Sunday, January 4, 2015

I Was Wrong!

“Our love of being right is best understood as our fear of being wrong”
Kathryn Schulz

When my husband found his long-lost treasures, the photos and negatives from the early part of his photojournalist career, I thought they would soon be strewn throughout his office and onto the kitchen counters. In fact, I was prepared to make a sign for his office entrance, which is most always used to enter the house, to guide visitors to the front door instead. 

Happily, I was wrong. His office, with the exception of his desk, has been spared. The kitchen counters, to my great surprise, are still mostly available for food preparation. The dining room, however, has new decor. There are stacks of photos and negatives just about everywhere as he sorts and labels them: "Hard News, Gary at Work, Famous Faces, Features, Historical Events." As more of these treasures emerge from the archived boxes, we will probably be eating at the kitchen counter on occasion. 

I am quite happy to be wrong. Happier still, that he is finding these pieces of his life and taking time to sort through them...happy to hear him tell the stories to the grandchildren who want to hear them. And I'm happy to admit I was wrong.

It's good to recognize our faults and to know God still loves us in spite of our imperfections. It sets us free to allow others the grace to grow. Some of us can be so good at being good, that we don't think we can be bad. And that's bad. Some of us are really good at finding the imperfections in others. We point out their errors as if it were our God-given assignment. Others of us feel shame and humiliation at being wrong, as if everyone will now know how stupid we are. But, neither of these stances produces peace. The truth is, we are all wrong, even when we think we're doing it right and every time we think we're doing it wrong. 

It is by God's grace that we are able to do anything good or right. To the extent we recognize that, we are truly free to accept His goodness. Our righteousness really equates to filthy, disgusting rags compared to the perfection of God. So, comparing ourselves to others, no matter how good or right they may seem to be, will always leave us hopelessly impaired, falling short of the intended goal of perfection. 

If you've spent a good part of your life trying to be perfect, trying to keep from making mistakes, it really can change your world to realize you don't have to perform everything perfectly. You just have to be able to admit when you were wrong before the one who never makes mistakes. He already knows.  And the happiest news of all is that His gift of righteousness is available to all of us. As we avail ourselves of it, the world becomes a happier place for each of us. It's a live-and-let-live, love-and-let-love, kind of world. It's a world of peace, not as the world gives, but as God gives. That's really happy.

2 Corinthians 10: 12
For we are not bold to number or compare ourselves with certain of them that commend themselves: but they themselves, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves with themselves, are without understanding (NIV).

Romans 14:4
You cannot judge the servants of someone else. Their own master decides if they are doing right or wrong. And the Lord’s servants will be right, because the Lord is able to make them right (ERV).

Matthew 5:5
You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought (The Message).