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Archive for June, 2012

That Darn Cat

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV)

This morning lady, my dog, and I are sitting out on the porch enjoying the early morning air. While I read from the bible, something caught Lady’s attention. It’s wasn’t the occasional jogger or squirrel. Usually I can avert her attentions away from such happenings. No, this morning’s distraction came from another source, a cat. Our landlord has an outside cat who drives Lady crazy. And in our moment of peace, the cat became the sole point of her focus. 
 
I tried to comfort and encourage her, yet her eyes stayed focused on the cat. At one point I thought of letting her loose to chase down the cat. But I knew such action would result in a devastating outcome. I thought about chasing down the cat myself, but the landlord was parked outside. Besides, how silly would it be to see a grown man chasing down a domesticated cat? So instead, I took her head in my hands, lifted it towards mine, and held her close. She fought me, pulling away, trying to loosen my grasp, but I stayed firm. Lady’s eyes desired me to let go. She wanted to see the cat and she was determined to move her focus towards the beast. 
 
Ever notice we have a similar reaction to temptation. There will be something in our sight that looks appealing but will cause us to fall. We become hyper focused on it, noticing nothing else around us. God trys to get our attention and directs us towards focusing on him, but the allure of temptation draws our eyes away.
 
Some would say God is mean and uncaring, trying to hold us back. Truth is he could let us go, allowing us to chase down whatever is keeping our focus. But he knows full well the end results would be devastating. He could chase down the sin himself but that would be out of his character and we would learn nothing. Instead he holds our head and lifts it towards him, turning our focus on him. We can fight him or concede to his authority. We can see him as God or we can continue to be enticed by the allure of temptation. The choice is ours. 

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Yet….

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. http://bible.us/Ps42.11.NIV

Interesting word isn’t it? “Yet”. Here in this scripture, the writer is vulnerable as he looks into his very soul. He asks a troubling question….why am I so downcast? Why do I feel like my life is falling apart? Why, why, why? 

Don’t we often approach life the same way, asking the “why’s” of life? Why is this happening? Why can’t I seem to get a break? Why does God hate me? There is a real danger when we stay at this point with no resolution. With no resolution there is no harmony and we are left feeling incomplete. 

But thankfully the psalmist brings this self-realization into harmony. Rather than staying at the point of simply asking the “whys” he resolves to see the WHO. “Put your hope in God. I will YET praise him, my savior and my God.” With his heart broken, his life in turmoil, he sees where to put his HOPE. But notice its not a definition of a better life. There is no promise of resolution. YET, in the mist of life, he places his hope in God.

Maybe you’re facing a life filled with uncertainty, a life filled with unanswered “whys”, a life in disharmony. Be honest and ask yourself, “What would happen if I lived in the YET; changing my focus from the ‘whys’ to the ‘who’?” When we stop for a moment and realize God is God and that all things work to bring HIM GLORY, we begin to focus less on the “whys” and more on the “who”. Life is be different when you live in the YET; no matter what’s happening or happened, you Praise the Lord for who he is. You rejoice in the difficulties, the pain, and the turmoil. To live in the YET allows God to bring Harmony from dissonance. Live in the Yet. Let Him bring harmony to your life today.

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Being a Parent is a blessing. As Charissa grows, she is starting to make sounds resembling words. As a proud daddy, I am pleased to say her first word was “dada”. MaryEllen says she only said that word first because of my constant teasing. Either way, I can celebrate her achievement. But it’s been a long time since Charissa called out to me in her sweet, tender voice. Instead of saying “dada” she’s moved onto other words like “mama” and “brabra”. She is growing up so quickly.

A few days ago, I had a tender moment with my daughter. As MaryEllen was getting ready for the day, I knelt next to the bed, looking fondly on Charissa. In the midst of her playing, she looked up at me and with a smile on her face she spoke softly but purposefully my name, “Dada”. My heart softened and a huge smile crossed my face. I was thankful my daughter recognized my face and enjoyed my presence. I relished her calling out to me, not in a moment of pain, fear, or demand, but in a moment of love, pleasure, and appreciation.

As I treasured this tender moment, I wondered how God feels when we call out to Him; not in a moment of pain, fear, or demand, but in a moment of love, pleasure, and appreciation for who he is. We reflect on the Awesomeness and Majesty of God. We appreciate the Power and Might of our Lord. But how often do we focus on the tender thought that God is our Father? “God sent him [Jesus] to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children.  And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.”  Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.” (Galatians 4:5-7 NLT)

God hears us no matter how we call out to Him. When we cry out in our pain, fear, or demand we can rest assured that our cries will reach his ears. But have you considered the tender moments; the moments where we simply express our love, pleasure and appreciation for who God is to us? Have you considered the times where you simply call out his name because you rejoice in being his son or daughter? When was the last time you stopped for a moment and gave God the gift of your time and appreciation for adopting you into his family and calling you one of His own? If it’s been a while, why not take some time now? Take a minute, clear your heart and mind and call out to your Heavenly Father, not in a minute of distress, but in a tender moment He’d treasure.

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Pillow Man

One of the greatest privileges of being both a Dad and a “Big Guy” is the fact all my children have found me to be a comfortable pillow to rest on. No matter how upset they were, I was able to lull them to a point of security where they would find rest and peace. Now with four children, finding rest and peace never happened the same way. When I was handed Daniel for his nap times, I would simply hold him for a minute and he would be out. Patrick and Micah would require a firm grasp and a soothing song, but in the end rest and peace would overwhelm them.

Now with Charissa, I am learning to yet again change my approach. I have learned that she also desires the firm hand but is submissive to my authority. She knows that when she comes to Daddy, she is going to find rest and fights to allow it in her life. She searches for anything to distract her, whether that means clawing at my face, grasping my nose, or searching for her brothers or mother. Charissa has associated her time with me as a time to rest. But, like my influence over the boys, I am able to endure longer than she and provide a safe and secure environment for her to find rest and peace.

I often wonder if God approaches us in a similar manner. He knows we live in a burdensome world which consumes the best out of us and offers little in return. He is aware of our hurts and pains, our struggles and temptations, our desires and plans. He watches and waits for us to turn away from the distractions and focus on him. And when that happens, He holds us close, tight, and firm. He sings to us softly, reminding us of his unconditional love and promises for our lives. He never gives up. He never gives in. He is resolute, steady, and unchanging. And as we start to truly realize we are in the presence of God Almighty, we start to let go of ourselves and give into him. And when we do, we find rest and peace in our lives.

Psalms 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God”. In this crazy world, how often do we follow that advice from our heavenly Father? How often do we simply lay on his chest and intentionally Be Still? Are you missing rest in your life? Looking for a little peace among the chaos? Why not try to Be Still for once and discover that God is God. He is the Father who endures, holding us firmly, refusing to let go until we find ourselves at rest in Him. 

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