"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons, and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'"
Here are five things I would love to have/use if ever I had the chance. (Fat chance, but still . . .)
I. My own tailor.
II. Custom-made shoes.
III. A personal trainer.
IV. A cook.
V. A swimming pool.
Luxuries. I won't ever have them. And I don't yearn for them or even hope for them. But any one of those five (V) items would be so cool. How 'bout you? Any luxuries you'd indulge if you could?
Father, I don't need any of the above. You know my heart. As the song goes: prone to wander. But I belong to you, and that's all I need. Thank you for rescuing me. Words are never enough. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness." Jesus Christ (Matthew 6:22-23 NIV)
In today's world sin is on the uptake, increasingly blatant, ascending in power, exposure, and endorsement. Many times the desire for its dominance in a life can be clearly seen in the eyes. Other times the discernment of the viewer must be keen in order to recognize the darkness Jesus spoke of in the above scripture.
Drawn to the darkness or light, we reflect our holiness or our evil in our eyes. Maybe with practiced care, we can disguise the evil for a time, but it will reveal itself eventually. It can't be permanently hidden.
In brilliant or subdued colors the eyes display so much of who we are. We transmit such depth through those mysterious orbs, masking or revealing pain, smiles and laughter expressed in the eyes, joys, regrets, mistakes, and monumental successes expunged via our eyes.
Designed for worship, to regale beauty and express grace, the eyes suffered the consequence of sin like all the body parts. Light or dark, it's in the eyes . . .
Father, I need your pure light to shine through my sinfulness. Let my expression be one of light. Always. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
New TV series episodes are coming to the end of their first season. Monday evening gave us the finale for Intelligence starring Josh Holloway, Marg Helgenberger, and Meghan Ory among other good character actors in this only slightly futuristic but more contemporary drama. And an intriguing first season it proved to be with charismatic actors and credible scripts.
Well cast and genuinely entertaining, Intelligence will return next season after the not unexpected but certainly twisted cliffhanger.
God, you know each one. Reach them, Lord. We're all desperate for you - whether we know it or not. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
I almost chose not to review this novel. Not because it's poorly written or any of those kinds of reasons. Lisa Samson is a great storyteller and a gifted writer. The Sky Beneath My Feet, published by Thomas Nelson, is a contemporary novel which could be labeled Women's Fiction because of the first person telling by Elizabeth/Eliza/Beth of her predicament when her husband Rick is granted a month long vacation away from his duties as Men's Pastor at their large church. When Beth is given a key by a generous parishoner to a beach bungalow in Florida for their vacation, she is shocked to learn what Rick has planned for his vacation.
So, the reason I wasn't going to review this story is because I didn't really like Beth. Or Rick. Or their son Eli who turned 16 about midway through the book. Nor did I like the portrayal of their church because it depicted (and mocked) so many characteristics, problem areas, and Christian clichés of many churches today. However, part of those problems are personified in people like Beth and Rick. And although clumsy and selfish in his aim to remedy a problem, Rick at least attempted to find a solution. Beth chose to whine, complain, and pout.
When Beth's brother Gregory comes to visit seeking a dire favor, Beth accompanies him to a scary part of town to rescue a young girl who's addicted to heroine and staying at a ramshackle house called Mission Up. Somehow visiting this place causes Beth to find a purpose she discarded when she married Rick and had two sons.
There's a conflict between wealth and poverty, works and faith, and people who attend and do ministry in the church but appear unable to hear from God. This story seems to subtly point the finger at those who don't do ministry where it's greatly needed, but ignores the glaring problem of those who haphazardly seek after or randomly listen to the Lord. Admittedly, we all travel through the spiritual deserts of our making, experiencing an unquenchable dryness in our walks, but much of that is our own doing. We allow distance between us and the Lord because of so many variables that create it, all unique to personal situations. God is patient and uses whatever it takes to draw us back to Him. Purpose is what Beth and Rick needed to get their focuses back to what matters and this is where they were finally able to find some unity in their directives.
And this is why I wasn't going to review the book - because I just talked about the underlying message or agenda of the story rather than the story itself. I was distracted by the agenda, and the unraveling of the message took an unusual journey to arrive at its ultimate destination. The journey was only sometimes compelling because the individuals involved weren't really very satisfying.
This review is not to criticize Lisa Samson. She's a superior talent, and she always writes with purpose. Honestly, I just didn't feel like the means to the end worked to accomplish the intended agenda - or perhaps the story itself didn't work for me. Which is of course just my opinion.
I'd still recommend any of Lisa's novels to readers who want a different kind of story from a very good writer who always looks at people and life from a unique perspective, creating unusual characters and meaningful, thought-provoking literature.
Father, please watch over Lisa, minister to her heart and soul, renew her spirit, and keep her safe from all harm. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
And the writings of a young girl on a great adventure:
A long time ago. A girl who didn't know Jesus but believed in God. A girl naive in so many ways. A girl penning a note to an acquaintance who after so many years found these postcards stashed away and shared them. In order: from London, Luxembourg, and Sion, Switzerland.
God, what an amazing thing you've done. You find us. You love us. You save us. You use us. How and why is beyond my very limited imagination. I love you, Lord, and I remain desperate for you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
I know. It sounds selfish. And ungodly even. But let me apply a little more reasonable explanation to the declaration in this snapshot.
Christians surrender their lives to Jesus Christ once the recognition of their sinful selves leads them to the ensuing repentance. From that moment on - with the understanding a genuine heart-cry has taken place - people yield the controls of their lives to God. No, it doesn't come easily or even naturally since we live in a body of flesh which wages war against our spiritual desires as a daily regimen.
In fact, our lives still belong to us. And we can go by our own rules. However, we change after meeting Jesus, and therefore our rules change. Not because God gives us a bunch of ultimatums and threats but because we no longer desire much of the sinful conduct we lived by prior to friendship with the living God.
Many people who don't know Jesus have the perception that religious do's and don'ts dominate this newfound life. On the contrary our relationship isn't about rigid adherence to rules but a real desire to live on a higher spiritual plane by learning to listen to the Holy Spirit as He instructs us on how to truly live our lives. Prior to our knowing Jesus, we lived according to what we assumed we wanted, needed, or liked. And while we may have been satisfied in the short term with our personal gains, that satisfaction usually soared briefly and toppled quickly after we set our sights on "the next big thing" we wanted to have or achieve.
When someone other than the Lord wants to insist we do something we cannot do because of our heart's objection to the demand(s), we can testify: My life. My rules. It might require real conviction to remain steadfast, but it's a choice we must make.
I confess if you tell me I "have to do" something - especially if it makes no sense to me - my neck stiffens and I resist with a mule's reaction to an unfavorable command. In other words: Don't. Don't tell me "You have to." My instinctive reaction: "My life. My rules." We all know this doesn't always work out for us, but sometimes we proclaim it anyway. Silently or otherwise. Once in awhile we declare it with a spiritual bent because we need to stand for something. Something higher and better than the human condition.
Father, you are life. You are righteousness. And you are all that truly matters. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Pick one. You've probably used a few of these well-known clichés and/or phrases several times in your life to encourage yourself or others. Sometimes these words hit home and score what they were designed to do. Other times they serve as reminders of how clichés are formed. There is truth there, but it's been repeated so often the original intent has become smudged from overuse like fingered penciled notes.
Words mean things, and we need them. Words rub us raw. Words take us to emotional skies and drop us just as fast back down to earth. Words keep silent and run off in our heads. Words tumble out awkwardly and embarrass us or endear us. Words stop in our throats and won't commit. Words gush from insincere lips and create gauzy messes. Words make or break us.
We understand when told, "Let your words be few." Because sometimes words don't say what we mean or mean what we say.
May those words you need today be on your tongues and be released in beauty and grace.
Father, may we write or speak the words you give us. In spirit and in truth. With love. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.