Monday, December 19, 2011

Beauty for Ashes

My Dad used to tell me that everything works out for the best.  He could list the disappointments in his life that had turned into blessings never imagined.  So, since childhood, I have watched to see God move in unexpected ways.  I’ve seen it many times:  A life that falls apart and then months or years later, looking back to see how the Lord used every tear and every experience for our good and for His glory.

As I try to pass this on to the next generation, I hope my kids and future grandchildren will know from the tips of their toes that God is in control.  Not only is He in control, but those who follow Him are His children, whom He loves more than we can ever imagine.  Therefore, we can rest in the assurance that He will use each heartache for our good and for His glory.  The Lord does not waste a single minute or experience, and does not allow anything to enter our lives that is unnecessary for His purpose and plan. 

Sometimes life takes turns that we do not expect.  We may feel blindsided, disappointed, and even betrayed.  When Peter faced an unexpected event, the Lord comforted him in Luke 22:31-32.  Jesus reminded the Apostle that He can see the outcome of all things, and prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail.  He let Peter know that he would turn back and glorify the Lord as he strengthened his brothers.  Such words of encouragement apply to us still today.  Our Lord knows all things (Romans 4:17), He prays for us (Romans 8:26-27) and comforts us so that we may comfort others (2 Cor 1:3-4).

We can’t foresee the future, even when it looks predictable.  By keeping our eyes on Jesus, abiding in Him, and trusting in His goodness even when we can’t see it, we can maintain a measure of joy when life crumbles around us.  We can await a glorious outcome knowing that He is in control and works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called for His purpose.  To God be the glory.

Isaiah 61:3 (NASB)
“ … Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. 
So they will be called oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

Monday, December 12, 2011

Get Your Hands Up!

No, this is not a stick up or a police raid, but encouragement from a simple, recent observation.

I’ve been trying to exercise regularly.  Really.  Exercise TV is my new favorite cable channel and there are dozens and dozens of workouts to do right in my living room.  I love the movement, the stress relief, and the way that it clears the fog from my brain.  I’ve discovered that it is a very effective writing tool, but that’s not the point of this post.

When the trainers want to increase our heart rate, I’ve noticed that our hands go above the head.  Hamstring curls, for example, are a great exercise, but when I do them with hands raised to the ceiling, several things happen:

·         My heart becomes fully engaged

·         My midsection tightens and I feel the exercise involve the entire core of my body

·         There must be endorphins released or something, because my outlook brightens immediately.  (Is that just me?)

So I was wondering… why don’t we raise our hands in worship to the Lord more often?  Imagine praising Him while driving in your car.  If you have a sunroof, open it and raise a hand (only one, please) above your head!  No sunroof?  Press a palm against the ceiling of your car.  While you sing in church, lift your arms and engage the entire core of your body in worship!  Can you imagine worship that fully connects with your heart, involves the entire core of your body, and immediately brightens your outlook?

Praise to the Lord draws His response as He accepts our offering.  Allow Him to capture and consume your attention and shift your focus from yourself to the One worthy of adoration.  The enemy flees as the light of the Lord casts out all darkness.  Through praise, we can have uninterrupted, unhindered time with Him, enjoying the satisfaction that comes through such wondrous communion.   Grab onto it with joy, with hands raised in the air and involve all of your heart and core!

Just do it.

John 4:23 (NASB)
But an hour is coming, and now is,
when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth;
 for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Don't Stop, Don't Give Up!

I apologize for posting video two weeks in a row, but this one is very inspirational and, well, it makes me giggle.  I hope you enjoy it and sing the song in your heart as I do!

Philippians 3:12-14 (NASB)

Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.  Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do:  forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.