Category Archives: Inspirational

The Whisper

Standing upon the crest of the hill overlooking what one would suspect, the valley below, shrouded in the mist, tops of towering pines quietly appear. The elevation is apparent, but the feeling of the exhilaration of the moment, the cool, nearly invisible moisture embraces the exposed flesh, becomes one with the atmospheric ambiance – uniting body and soul. The light from above is all but muted, so great the fog that covers the mountain top. The only cusp of truth attesting to reality are your feet firmly planted upon the well-worn path upon which you trod.

Silently leaning on the walking stick, the old friend that has carried you across many a roaring stream, balanced your body from falling upon treacherous rock-laden trails, supports you comfortably while you absorb the scene. In that tranquility of creation, there comes a still, small voice – not audible, but stepping into your soul like the tender approach of the mist before you. You listen, and from one Spirit to the other, words form from the void, from whence they were never meant to be lost. In reverence to the voice, your head becomes heavy and bows beneath the divine weight. Eyes closed, the wind rushes past your ears as the sound of the raging torrent in the creek below you, somewhere amongst the shrouded mystery, coalesces with the voices of the forest below. Like a precious petal from the lovely rose, the words land upon your spirit, a kiss of the heavenly caress upon your cheek. Words spoken but never uttered from mortal lips – your heart pauses as their meaning, like the granite upon which you stand, reaches deep into your being, touching the hidden recesses of your consciousness.

And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.”[1]

A sign from above or not, a hawk cries from the distance, its voice echoing off unseen walls. You raise your head just in time to see the veil of vapor slowly part as the glow of the morning sunrise sets the stage for the coming glory. There before you, the image of a distant snow-covered mountain peak, glowing radiant butter-flavored warmth, begins to emerge, reverently entering stage left, the parting of the curtain only for one, you, the beloved. Something deep inside begins to cast a feeling of joy and remorse as one, finding the revelation too much for mere mortal bindings. You fall to your knees, unaware of the strength that seems to have suddenly left your body.

There is but one, the Father above, that can cause such jubilation and subjugation. To withstand His celestial purpose, love, and intent for our lives is all but fruitless. For alone, we are nothing but the dust upon which we stand. To rebel against those divine intentions is an act of utter foolishness. Yet, some do. “There is in truth, no mid way between absolute harmony with the Father and condition of slaves – submissive or rebellious. If the latter, their very rebellion is by the strength of the Father in them.”[2]

Today, let us not seek to walk in our self-absorbed bondage to the world but rather seek to follow the will of Him from whom we have been created. George MacDonald writes, “For nothing can come so close as that which creates; the nearest, strongest, dearest relation possible is between creator and created.”

Seek Him, walk with him, and let your day become the fullest possible. Thanks be to God.

[1] 1 Kings 19:11-12 KJV

[2] George Macdonald, Unspoken Sermons, pg. 238

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The Seen and Unseen

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” – Hebrews 11:3

Oh, how much more beautiful are those things before us when we consider the hands that hath made them? To know that there is a loving creator, one who formed a Universe such that it would provide for our lives upon the tiny orb, the spec in the grand abyss of space, to which everything is set in perfect alignment so that we may have life, should give us a sense of comfort and awe simultaneously. Not only are we a magnificent work of the Father, but we are also part of the Master’s plan. As we commute to our daily labor, we should take notice of the world in which we live – the beauty, the grandeur, the utter magnificence of everything that unfolds before us – the visibly seen.

Yet, as much as appears, there is all the more that is unseen: the subatomic, the ethereal, and lastly, the spiritual. The more science uncovers in its inexhaustive search for the truth, the more we can see the hand of God. Time and time again, the revelations point to the supernatural, that which is beyond the measure of analytical approach. In the end, we are led to have all the more confidence in our faith in one that we have never seen, yet who we know exists.

However, as much as one considers all the proof, some find themselves doubting, even when they have once fully believed. How is this possible? From my limited but careful observation, I find that there are many reasons, but seemingly, in each, there is an element of sin, however small, that comes between knowing God and his will for our lives. Unlike the grain of sand in the oyster shell, which eventually becomes a pearl, this agitation is quite the opposite, resulting in a darkness that can consume its host. From relational disappointments to desires of the flesh, there are a multitude of methods in which the enemy can interject the seed of doubt, casting believers into a season of utter despair and misery.

But how do we cope with this season of doubt, of feeling lost? How does one crawl out from beneath the massive granite boulder of depression and guilt? There is no one set answer for all, but the underlying path is to seek God where you found him in the beginning if there was one. Where was that? Hopefully, it was in the Word, in prayer, in supplication, and in the fellowship of other believers. But if not, that would be a solid place to start.

“Yeah, ok, that sounds great and all, but how does that remove the doubt,” you ask? To eliminate that which draws you away from Him, you must first identify what it is that has made the separation. Then, once that cause has been identified, one should search for the reason that pulled you away from His divine nature. Was it church? Was it a concept? Was it a person? There are endless possibilities, but for the sake of time, let’s focus on one – the person.

Too often, we unknowingly put others on a pedestal, propping them up in our minds. The danger in this is that those other people are human too, capable of sin as easily as you are, no matter their stature or importance on the world stage. We’ve all heard of the demise of church leaders and evangelists. Their corruption becomes like a wave of disease that spreads across their congregations and followers. When they fall or fail to exhibit those Godly characteristics to which we were first attracted to them, we suddenly become hurt – it’s as if a piece of our heart has been deceived, leaving a hole within. In those instances, one can begin to question if they genuinely believed, having seen the one whom they held in such high esteem become a mere mortal once again. We ask ourselves, “Were their teachings truly espousing the Word of God, or was I deceived,” we might ask? “Can I trust my salvation if it were based upon someone who had secretly been sinning all along?” These questions are valid, yet should not be the final answer to where you leave your faith. One must press on, turning to the scriptures yourself, not waiting to be fed, seeking Him on your own. Then, once you have found Him once more, find a community that supports you, both spiritually and fundamentally. The restoration process can be long, but in the end, the results are so much more glorious, for then, you will have achieved a testimony of your own.

We live in a dark, sinister world that seeks to devour us and our faith. We must be ever vigilant, seeking Him in all things—both visible and invisible. We serve a mighty God.

If you have a testimony, share it with others. There are so many that are hurting, that have doubts, and those who just need someone to talk with who truly cares about them in a loving manner.

As you go forth today, be a light to the world around you and always know that whether we can see Him or not, He is with you always – until the end of time.

Thanks be to God.

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A Fast Reflection

Another chilly, rainy-laden day. There is a certain feeling of release, a freedom from a burden that has long encompassed my soul – being set free from the weight of depending upon food – perhaps a true feeling or revelation of what our glorified body will become. To be in a world where your senses are still intact and properly functioning, yet to have one of the greatest mortal dependencies of the flesh, that which sustains us and keeps us alive – food – when that is removed, this becomes a feeling of a release from its bondage – the ultimate repentance. As the body absorbs the fat of the opulence of life from your frame, slowly, with great revelation, you are given into the understanding of how one may approach that last day, the one in which you pass from this life to the next. To see something for what it is, not for that which your perception creates, but rather for that thing which its barest essential implores, is to give truth to what is cruciality of need. Jesus spoke of that which a man takes into his body is not that which defiles a man, but rather what comes out of his mouth. Yet, the vessel to which we are given care has a certain amount of dependencies upon what it is fed, so much so that we become a reflection of those choices as to what we put in it. Overindulgence leads to obesity, a sign of a medical condition, or, more often, the addiction to things that are unhealthy – for which both can be an emotional crutch as much as the physical addiction. Sadly, some people live to eat rather than eat to live.

When we are capable of stepping back and taking a look at ourselves, as in the case of this seven-day water-only fast which I’m currently on, we can see and appreciate all the more those things that we take for granted – health, life, and our relationship with God. While these are not all equal, they all become as one when we encompass them within the human form. Looking at our bodies as a vessel, we then can better relate to how God can use us. How we take care of that container is as important as that which we pour into our intellect. So, when we choose to refrain from those indulgences, to stop eating, we quickly become aware of our body’s dependencies, good or bad, on that very thing that consumes so much of our lives – the irony is palpable. However, if one continues in this tract for very long, it soon becomes clear that there are other things that are affected by this change in lifestyle – the sensitivity of those things spiritual.

The enlightenment of awareness is uplifting. Not only does one feel physically lighter, but there is a freedom of the spirit, a release from captivity of one’s soul. In this manner, it soon becomes comprehensible how the words from scripture that speak of the glorified body will come to fruition. It is then, when this understanding lands upon one’s comprehension like a feather falling to the earth, that we can, although its perceptibility may be slight, for a moment, catch a glimpse of that divine realm to which we so aspire.

If my body would allow, I would continue this fast forever, but unfortunately, there is a physical limitation to this season of awareness. A thing that which is mortal must pertain to the natural laws of this world. In so doing, the fast must soon end. Yet, although it will be over, the inspiration will be etched once more into my memory, becoming a well of motivation for future use – for that, I can be grateful.

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The Painter’s Touch

Blessed be the Lord, who hath not given us as a prey to their teeth. Our soul is escaped as a bird out of the snare of the fowlers: the snare is broken, and we are escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” – Psalm 124:6-8

The painter dips the brush into the medium, just enough, so that the paint covers the fine hair to his satisfaction. Minutes before, he carefully mixed the paint to the desired color with which to apply to the painting upon which he works. Then with care, and with an eye to the canvas as a whole, he determines where this stroke will land. With the touch of the Master’s hand, the spirit passes through the arm, the wood of the brush, through the paint, and into the viscosity of life of color before him. There, in the presence of light, the image becomes a living, breathing story, both from the inspiration of the creator and the soul of the one to whom it dwells within. The interaction continues, again and again, a dance of perpetual admiration until the painting is complete. Once finished, the many colors afforded the pallet of life become the vivid conceptualization of the artists love of his Creator – a dedication from the child to the Father.

Free to fly as intended, the spirit becomes one with its Creator, allowing the beauty intended to manifest itself into beautiful replicas of the Master’s loving hand. Freedom of the soul, to escape the bounds of the fowler’s snare, as one being freed from the bondage of sin, allows for the spirit to dwell in peace with the Savior. The two, when walking as one, are more than a light to the world in which the mortal dwells. They become a beacon of hope, through the Son’s sacrificial act, giving of himself, he who knew no sin became sin, so that the world may be saved from theirs, hope is given unto all mankind. It is theirs, those created in His image, to seek should their hearts so desire.

The craving to know something greater than themselves comes as the artist finds that moment in time, that perfect sunset, that alluring snowscape, or the beautiful laugh of a child, to inspire their next work of art. May we each find time today to go out into the world, seeking, searching for that snapshot of flowing ethereal life that plays out before us, capturing it for the moment into our heart, and in that instance, find the inspiration to seek one greater than all, so that we too may know Him.

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The Path of Doubt

Ergos found himself standing at a point in the trail, and at a time, when the light of day was quickly retreating behind the mountain.  There was an urgency to press forward, but a fear of the unknown not being in control of his situation caused him to pause.  He knew from the map that his destination was somewhere ahead, but in the back of his mind, as if something that was to be kept at bay, returned the urge to go back the way he had come.  Under his breath, he prayed to God to help him find his way.  But those divine requests had no more left his lips when, in just a few more steps forward, he stopped and turned around.  Doubts began to flood his mind.  “What would those whom he told God had called him say?  Would he become a joke, a horrible representation of what happens when you become a Jesus freak?  Giving up would be saying that what he thought was his calling was a misunderstanding.  Would this diminish his faith?” Like a torrential cold rain, the thoughts kept flowing until, at last, Ergos gave into that suffocating desire to allow his known path to lure him back.

As he regretfully began to retrace his steps, he quickly became aware of a phenomenon he had not anticipated – the pathway started to close in as if the forest was supernaturally reclaiming his only course of retreat.  Ergos pushed into the oppressive briars and brambles until it became apparent that this was no longer sustainable, and gave up.  He now had no choice but to turn around once more and endure the daunting prospect of entering that dreaded unknown.  As his footsteps led him forward, the intimidating darkness shrouding his pathway found a friend in his realization that there was no going back.  The doors he thought would remain open, his safety net, were now closed, no longer accessible.  When he chose to embark upon this journey, he had never thought he would ever consider giving up, although its prospect was like an arrow in his quiver, there if needed but kept in reserve just in case, but it was now gone, removed against his will.

Suddenly, a greater resolve struck his heart.  That calling that had been there from the beginning returned, the voice now louder than ever before, “Why do you doubt when you know that I will take care of you if you would only give all of yourself to me.” He paused, hands on his hips gathering himself.  As he did, Ergos felt a momentary tingling pulsate from the bottom of his boots, slowing growing like that of a wave washing over the shore until it reached the top of his head.  The sensation of a mighty hand enveloping his being came over him, cradling him in the safety of its palm.  Ergos didn’t believe that faith in the Holy Spirit required something physical, yet there it was, that undeniable sensation of something comforting him.  Then, he realized a change in the forest around him.  The gray darkness began to change as the light began to flow from another source.  His eyes followed the transition from the tip of his boots going forward finding a gentle glow illuminating the pathway ahead as the moon was rising just below the edge of the dark mountain above.  Like a strand of silver ribbon, the way forward beckoned as the hope in a dark world.

No matter the outcome of what the future held, from that moment forward, Ergos never looked back.  In his heart, he knew that God was with him and that through every trial and hardship, no matter how bleak the night became, his Father in Heaven would be there with him.

And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.  My Father, who gave them to Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.” – John 10:28-29

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Adrift at Sea

You never know what you will see or hear on campus. As I made my way to the car to drive home, several groups of high-school students made their way to the dining hall. The season of summer camps had begun. Each group, some the first time away from home, clung to their companionships like a drowning man to a remnant of wood that once was the ship from which they had been cast. Afloat now in a vast ocean of unknowns, their only hope was the meager breadth of wood to which they clung – those few people that had traveled with them from their beginning. It is no wonder that as they converse and carry on, they must adhere to something which gives them strength of spirit, an inner encouragement.

So, it was no surprise to hear a small group of young men repeating a saying that would repeat itself ad nauseam if said correctly. Now, I don’t keep up with the latest memes or gaming nuances – they themselves never end. Yet, whatever they were repeating was entertaining enough, and garnering them enough attention, that they loudly spoke as if orating a masterpiece of knowledge.

Passing by and hearing them made me wonder something, which in a sense, was a judgment but not one of intent. Instead, it made my heart sad that such brilliant minds might otherwise have memorized something which the world needed – something which contained a thought or phrase which, if spoken to the passerby, might give them a sense of hope. Yes, what if they had memorized a scripture long enough to challenge their mental faculties yet, spoke a message to the world that as they walked, they professed their belief in God? What if they merely quoted the twenty-third Psalm? Would those whom they randomly encountered be blessed all the more?

As their voices faded into the hum of the campus life, a butterfly drifted past me, landing on a flower, one amongst the many in the landscaped bed. How precious, yet, blessed was the sight, so much so that it caused me to stop and think. Did not those young voices mesmerized by their own abilities not give one a sense of hope. Like that butterfly finding that one flower amongst so many, could not one person reach one in that group, and through that one individual reach the others, giving them something to cling to? Like that piece of driftwood lost at sea, they could find something that would not only keep them afloat but save their life as well. For if one person speaking to one of them, could it not change the minds of more? If they can memorize that useless phrase, what if they someday met someone that gave them a different, uplifting passage that would not only allow them to show off their mental status but, more importantly, give light to the world about them? Have I not encountered the very thing Jesus espoused to his followers, “The fields are white ready to harvest, but the laborers are few?”

Think about those before you today, and speak as if God has given you a platform to share His message, not one of inane repetitiveness, but of truth and light. Be not of this world, but rather, seek Him first, and all else will fall into place.

Thanks be to God.

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Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

On Saturday, my wife said that she had read on the Cove’s forum that blueberries were ready to pick down at the community garden and asked if I could pick some for her. Wanting to be a good husband and knowing from years of training that the two best words a man can utter are, “Yes, dear,” I replied that Sunday would be a better day to do her bidding.

So, yesterday, when time availed itself, my preparation for the good deed began. Looking for a container with which to retrieve the berries started out with the idea of an old plastic milk jug cut in half, knowing that there probably wouldn’t be many berries remaining. After all, the message had been sent to several hundred people. However, from not finding a suitable cutting tool to having no other small container available, it felt like I was being led to take something larger. Soon, after listening to that still small voice speak, a left-over dry-wall mud bucket was chosen. “Too large, but at least it would be easy to tote since it had a nice handle,” I said to myself.

After washing my new oversized carrying container under the outside hydrant, my journey began. Through the shade of the deep woods, over the trail that wound beside a gentle flowing stream, the pathway led. There was a cool breeze – quite a pleasant surprise, considering we are in the midst of the summer months. The birds were singing melodies quite pleasing to the ear, providing a serenade of peace that made the weary soul rejoice. Before I knew it, the forest gave way to the open field surrounded by the black wooden fencing where the gardens lay.

My suspicions from the initial thoughts of the number of blueberries available to be picked were soon confirmed – pickins’ were far and few between. Yet, knowing that even a couple handfuls would make my beloved happy, I began taking what few drops of heavenly sweetness would afford. After gleaning as many as possible, my large bucket seemed still wholly empty. The breeze wafted, causing the apple trees nearby to catch my eye. There, splendidly arrayed, were several trees with ripe apples of different varieties. “Well, since there’s plenty of room, why not,” the thought came. So, ambling in their direction, my hands eagerly picked some of the delectable choice morsels. “These would be wonderful treats and add a nice touch to my daily smoothies,” the thoughts cascaded into my head.

While I had been picking the bounty of fare, several different groups had arrived, either tending to their own gardens or just stopping by to view the plots therein. As I made my way to the gate to leave, one of those couples hailed me, “Hey, would you like some cucumbers or zucchini? We have plenty.”

“Sure, I would love some,” came my reply. “I work full-time, so I just don’t have time to plant a garden.”

“Well, we’d be happy to share. They’re just on the other side of the fence.”

“Ok, I was just headed that way.”

We met at the exit gate and exchanged greetings, shaking hands, the husband and wife. They looked to be around my age and very fit. Evidently, life had treated them well. We shared where we lived, each not knowing exactly where that was, seeing as the size and scope of the neighborhood.

We talked briefly about gardening as they pointed to the vegetables arrayed on the ground. I shared with them how much we missed growing a garden since leaving the farm back in Chatham County. They handed me one item after another until my bucket was nearly overflowing. It was then I realized what had happened. The Lord had shown again his ability to provide even when there was no thought nor request for sustenance. “Give us this day our daily bread” came to mind as they eagerly shared their hard work and graciousness. Before leaving, I thanked them repeatedly, ending with, “The Lord told me to bring a bigger bucket today. Now I know why.”

They smiled in return, and we said our goodbyes.

As I walked home along the trail of tranquility, the peace of Christ that passes all understanding blanketed my heart with sweet joys. The burning in my arms from carrying the great reward was a blessing, not only because of what was shared but knowing that God had again provided over and above all that was expected.

I was not worthy, yet he sent his Son to take the wrath for my sins on the cross so that a sinner like myself could have eternal life.

Yes, a prayer was answered even when it wasn’t mentioned.

Thanks be to God.

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Don’t Fall in the Ditch

 

There is something peaceful about a good night’s sleep. As we age, those precious occasions seem to grow less frequent. Last night was one of those rare opportunities to catch up on much-needed rest.

This morning, the temptation was there to rush off to the coffee shop to hang out and write. But knowing that it would cut into my morning devotion time and the fact that the last time I went there early on a Friday, a men’s group was just finishing – too large for the tiny establishment. When they concluded it was like a beehive had been struck, the fiery sound of a myriad of discussions ensued, overflowing the peace and calm, killing the intended mood and ambiance for which the location was sought. Agreeable to why they met, it was still a distraction that couldn’t be avoided.

So, withstanding the above encounter, I chose to remain at home this morning and sit listening to my preferred music while typing out these few lines. At least here, I’m saving time and money and still accomplishing some semblance of study and devotion.

One must ask, for if we do not, are we not guilty of assuming we are correct – am I doing all that is possible to draw closer to God? The scripture in Luke 6 warns of such assumptions, “And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?” Writing out the devotion, there were certain people I had in mind – those who could truly use those words spoken by our Lord and Savior. Yet, as I now write, it seems that the scripture found in Luke pertains ever more to myself in the aforementioned sense. How shall one be able to lead others if they have not done their homework, so to speak? Are we not susceptible to falling into the ditch, into temptation, into sin when we ourselves have not committed our lives, our every breath to seeking God? It is when we can look in the mirror and make the feeble determination, based on what we have learned to lean not on our own understanding but His that we then can be bold enough, when realizing if we are open to allowing Christ to work in us, then it will be Him that speaks through us. In this final realization, we become those who can guide others, not because of anything we do ourselves, but because He works in and through us. We are His vessels. We are the new temple; through that jar of clay, the Holy Spirit will shine through, speaking life into the dark world.

Do your homework, but don’t hide behind closed doors. Boldly go out into the world and be the light for someone in this dark world, sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Thanks be to God.

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The Forest Before Me

 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2

The air is fresh and clean, but a welcoming blanket of humidity greets us today. The thunderstorms that rolled through the area overnight left in their wake an overcast dawn. Outside, the forest before me likewise slowly awakens, reminding me of my home in the holler of the enchanted wood back in North Carolina. Unlike there, the chorus of birds here only before me, not surrounding me as in my wooded home. Here, it is as if a stage is set before me in some grand theater as I sit on the edge of the woods. Birds of all varieties perform their best songs, every one of them a perfect rendition of the voice their creator bestowed upon them. Here and there, in the sings of this great state, domesticated avian crow their morning greetings – the reminder that this performance hall sits amongst a conflicted countryside, torn between the bucolic world it once was to that of the coal mines and growing suburban retreats, each a necessity of the other. A gentle breeze passes by, caressing the hair on my arm, causing my writing to pause and allowing one the momentary respite – acknowledging again God’s refreshing reminder that we are not alone.

Going out each day, seeking those with whom we can share God’s word, should be as purposeful as setting significant goals in our life – those that affect our long-term existence on earth, for we are continually surrounded by, as Hebrews tells us, a great cloud of witnesses. The challenge is to find them that are willing to allow us into their personal space. It isn’t easy to talk to a total stranger regarding breaking through without inciting some sort of defensive barrier. In order to make such a connection, one has to be portrayed as someone that exudes a personality of a loving, compassionate soul. To this end, when we walk in our faith, not promoting self-righteousness, but rather a humble, kind humility, we can then bridge those gaps of suspicion, allowing the stranger to open up and bare their innermost thoughts.

However, it is never easy to walk as Christ, emanating that radiant light from within. There are burdens in our life that are often difficult to overcome – the weight of life that besets us. They become our stumbling blocks, so much so that they become excuses we easily fall back on when the challenge before us causes us to hesitate. This is the enemy’s desire that we should falter in our effort to reach others. Interjecting our love of self, the one that is the very thing we are warned about, we become fearful of tarnishing that self-image. Our pride then overwhelms our purpose, the sin that clings so closely, and we cave into the feeling of either embarrassment or, worse, the belief we are incapable of acting in such an honorable manner. But as Paul writes in Hebrews, we must run this race with endurance. Our work toward perfecting our life’s mission is neither easy nor a sprint. The sanctification is a marathon – lasting the rest of your life. There will be hills and valleys. There will be challenges and setbacks. But through it all, we are to place our eye upon the prize, Christ – the perfecter and finisher of our faith.

Today looks to be a very full day – my plate is full. Yet, even on such busy times as this, we should pray that the Lord gives us the discernment to know when to pause, and drink it all in, allowing us to set this moment in time into one’s collective memory. For someday, it will be that place to which your mind returns, to once more be comforted through God’s grace. Yes, step out into the forest, and welcome the song of the woods, for each gentle breeze is a story in life’s journey. Make today one that lasts for that lifetime.

Thanks be to God.

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Seek the White Stone…

Outside, the rain falls – a gray overcast day, perfect weather for sitting inside the coffee shop. Around us, brick walls bring the outdoors inside, giving a sense of rustic behavior among the amenities of one’s home. Here, among the public, one can catch the occasional glimpse of a writer, an artist, or just someone surfing the internet researching their next vacation. One can find motivation from those around you; it’s where the community comes into play. Yet, with regard to worship, being with others in the community isn’t only for the inspiration of seeing someone else seeking God; it’s the fact that together, we are united in our quest to call out to Abba, the Father, inviting the Holy Spirit to join. As Jesus told us, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”[1]

As my journey here in southern Indiana continues, I’m finding a perspective that’s probably more common than what I usually encounter. More and more I find those who are living life without any direction regarding their spiritual well-being. Unlike a college campus, their direction isn’t temporary; it’s long-term. Most people, but not all, go through the motions, living life day-to-day. For some, this struggle is real. Chronic ailments increase with age. There are doctor visits, medical concerns, and a host of other self-care requirements necessary just to make it through the day. The battle is real. Often, they feel that their prayers are the key to their spiritual health, disregarding studying and applying God’s word. They’ve read enough to believe in some greater power yet, seldom apply those concepts to more than just their own well-being. Trapped in their sole existence, they find little time or opportunity to share Christ with more than just a handful of people. They might as well be on a deserted island. Their world slowly closes in around them until the last. There, they come to that final rerun of their life’s journey, which left little trace showing the path to salvation. It is as if they never existed.

Then there are some, healthy, robust, living their life as if there would be an eternity to deal with those things of the spirit – putting off today what one can do tomorrow. Procrastination, Satan’s desire for each of us, lures one into a false sense of security. He [Satan] tries to keep our eye off those things of eternity, living for tomorrow instead of today. For if one were to live for the present, they would find eternity through Christ, which, if you think about it, is quite the irony.

Those baby steps of being pulled away from our focus on God become layers of distractions that build one upon another until one becomes buried beneath their burdens. C.S. Lewis wrote in the Screwtape Letters, “Finally, from the corner of the room, a small whisper came. It was one of the younger demons. Hesitantly, he suggested, “You’ve missed our most effective strategy… Just tell them they have all the time in the world to decide. Tell them it’s not that important. Tell them to wait another day…” Before you know it, you’re in the hospital facing mortality with little to nothing to show for all those years of working toward that worthless goal. You are overwhelmed with the reality that you spent your life chasing after silly treasures that do nothing more than collect dust on the shelf in your earthly home, the one you will soon be leaving. Meanwhile, your future home, if you have even chosen to go to that next place, is barren, the rooms empty – a hollow chamber of empty souls.

Although life can be busy, we must make a concerted effort to reach out to those around us, not just when we are on vacation. Daily, there is a battle going on in the world around us. It’s that person sitting next to you at the stop light. It’s that person at the other table in the coffee shop. It’s that stranger that opened the door for you at the library. They surround you every day of your life. The challenge is to find a way inside their world, to gain a foothold, to share something more than what the world has to feed them. This is where we must work the hardest –finding opportunities to share, for it is here in the chance encounter of life that we build the guest list for the Kingdom of God. The names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life become our neighbors in life eternal. “To him that overcometh, I will give a white stone, and in the stone, a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”

May you find someone today to share the Good News of Jesus, and in so doing, find the white stone with your new name in life eternal.

Thanks be to God.

[1] Matthew 18:20 KJV

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