Saturday, November 28, 2009


Read this and absolutely loved it. Pray for Matt Chandler. He is experiencing some serious health issues.


Matt ChandlerActs 29 Pastor - Dallas, Texas

It has been my experience that inspirations are brief, sporadic and rare. By inspiration I mean those moments where our souls are stimulated to a high level of feeling, thinking and doing. I love those brief, sporadic and rare moments. I am addicted to the vitality I have, the love I feel, and the clarity of thought that occurs when I am inspired. I have tried for years to pay attention to these moments, to dig into them, excavate them, and figure them out.

What is it that inspires me?
Who is it?
What stirs my affection…for my wife?
For my children? For life in general?

This to me is one of the major ideas that demand an answer. To solve this arduous riddle means more energy, richer life, deeper relationships and greater self-awareness.

Several years ago I started applying this line of thought to my relationship with Christ. Instead of asking myself what inspired me to be a good man (what’s that anyway?) I started asking what stirs my affections for Christ. What, when I’m doing it, when I’m around it or dwelling on it creates in me a greater hunger for, passion for and worship of Christ and His mission? The first list was a strange one. It looked something like this:

1. Early mornings and hot coffee
2. The writings of John Owen (at the time it was The Mortification of Sin)
3. Listening to Lauren sing
4. Walks through graveyards (I know this is weird but it reminded me of mortality)
5. The book of Hebrews
6. Robust dialogue on ecclesiology or missiology
7. Sermons by John Piper
8. Angst-filled music

I also wrestled with and paid attention to what robbed me of affection for Christ. What, when I was doing it or spending time around it created in me an unhealthy love for this world? The first list was a strange one because the majority of things that robbed me of zeal for Christ and His mission were morally neutral things. It looked something like this:

1. Watching too much TV and spending too much time online
2. Staying up late for no reason
3. Following sports too closely
4. Being physically lazy
5. Empty conversations (talking for hours about nothing)
6. Idleness

For the last few years I have updated this list often. In fact it has changed quite a bit. I want to pay attention to life. I want to be keyed in to what feeds my zeal for our great God and King and what kills that zeal. My hope is that I could flood my life with Christ-exalting, worship-creating things and avoid anything that would rob me of that.

What inspires you?

Better yet, what stirs your affections for Christ, truth and holiness? If we can fill our lives with the things that stir our affections and avoid and flee those things that rob us of inspiration, we have a better shot at dwelling deeply. What and who inspires you? Stirs you? What presses you into holy places? What robs you of joy and vitality? What robs you of your affection for Christ and holiness?

Matt Chandler's posts are re-published from his blog—Dwell Deep.

I Am Free

Wake Up, Dress Up, Rise Up!

"The chalice of My anger, You will never drink it again.And I will put it into the hand of your tormentors, who have said to you, 'Lie down that we may walk over you.' You have even made your back like the ground, And like the street for those who walk over it." Awake, awake, Clothe yourself in your strength, O Zion; Clothe yourself in your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city. For the uncircumcised and the unclean will no more come into you. Shake yourself from the dust, rise up, O captive Jerusalem; Loose yourself from the chains around your neck, O captive daughter of Zion. Isaiah 51:22b, 23-52:2 NASB

I had a painful experience as a young Christian when someone I respected expressed disappointment and doubt in the sincerity of my walk with the Lord. In retrospect I realize the person had some control issues. They had their own agenda for my life that was contrary to the direction I was sensing. I was written off and it was devastating to me. For the first time in my life I had to deal with some deep depression as their dismissive and condemning words seeped into my spirit. I had become a victim of someone’s warped outlook instead of the victor God had declared me to be through His Son. As my depression grew so did an overwhelming passivity. In Isaiah 51:23 God tells Israel that their tormentors have told them to lie down that they may walk over their backs and Israel obeyed. They made their backs a smooth road for the enemy to walk over. They were listening to and obeying their enemy and so was I.

Only God could lead a depressed person to read a book called Numbers. This is what I read, "And it will come about that the rod of the man whom I choose will sprout. And behold the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms, and it bore ripe almonds.” Numbers 17:5b and Numbers 17:8b It was there through the written word and His still small voice He spoke, “Carol, your life may look like a dried up stick to yourself and others but because I have chosen you, you will bud, bloom, and bear almonds.”

Slowly but surely, hope and healing rose like a life giving sap through my wounded heart and emotions. The whispered lies that I was a failure and disappointment to my Father and Savior, and had been forsaken by His Spirit were replaced with spoken truth. I found the corresponding verse in the New Testament to further emphasize this truth. "You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you.” John 15:16

I had read Isaiah 52 in the past but didn’t realize its significance to my life and struggles. God calls out a command to the one who is being walked on by their enemy, “Daughter, wake up, dress up, get up, and free yourself from the chains around your neck.” You have been given everything you need for life and godliness, (2 Peter 1:3) now use it.

As I gained strength I read Scripture and Scripture-filled prayers out loud every day. I put on my armor and clothed myself with the Lord Jesus Christ (my beautiful garment). I began to lift the shield of faith to quench the lies and parried with the sword of the Spirit. “I am chosen. I will bear fruit for His glory!” The dark pit of depression crumbled, the chains fell and I once again begin to walk in the light as He is in the light.

If you are in relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ his word to you is that he has chosen you and appointed you to bear fruit. Realize that you have an enemy. Don’t let his lies find a place of entry. Let go of those negative words others may have spoken over you and evict them from your mind. Stop renting them space in your head. Stop the negative chatter of self-criticism. Come into agreement with the Mighty One who has chosen you.

MY PRAYER: Lord, help me to be humble and to accept wise counsel and correction. Help me to be discerning and not accept criticism that tears down and does not build up and edify. Help me by Your Spirit to recognize when my own thoughts are negative and faithless. Help me to realize when the enemy is whispering his lies to me. Help me to hold fast to who you say that I am. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

MY CONFESSION: I will wake up, stand up, and dress up. I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit and my fruit will remain. I will believe your report. I stand on your word!

Thursday, November 26, 2009


But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. Micah 7:7
If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself. 2 Timothy 2:13

On this Thanksgiving Day, gratitude for the utter trustworthiness of a faithful Savior floods my heart with peace .Even in the midst of trials; I watch and wait in faith that my God will hear me. It doesn’t depend on my flawless performance but on His abiding faithfulness.

We are in Washington celebrating Thanksgiving with our daughter and her family. One of the things I really enjoy when we are here is going to His Place, their church in Burlington. I am always riveted by a beautiful portrait they have in their sanctuary. I ask my son-in-law to take a picture of it for me. What is so unique is the portrait of Christ on the cross is composed by the placement of individual pictures of the people in their congregation.

This sums up the bottom line of my gratitude. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. John 3:16-17

Hope you have a meaningful Thanksgiving and a heart filled with gratitude.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

That Kind of Love

As Many as Received Him

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:10-13

Do you ever feel sad and grieved for God? I had a time like that recently when taking a walk on a beautiful beach. Homes were crammed in side by side to look out on God’s amazing creation, and yet I had to wonder how many believed they were seeing the handiwork of God? Did they prefer to attribute the grandeur to a big bang or evolutionary process that would allow them to be accountable or thankful to no one? Paul describes this category in Romans 1:20 “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” The witness of the creation is ample evidence to provoke a heart hungry for the truth and will never be enough for a heart that isn’t.

To read that He came to those who were His own and they didn’t receive Him pierces to the heart. Weren’t they waiting for Messiah? Wasn’t that the promise? We know that Jesus’ own people on the whole didn’t receive Him. Even though Jesus fulfilled prophecy after prophecy it wasn’t sufficient. They hated Him because He exposed their empty religion. In John 8:42 Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me; for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. Supposedly they were lovers of God, but their hatred of the Son revealed their true state. John 8:44 "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.”
  • According to the prediction of the prophet Zechariah, one day the Jews will ask him, "What are these wounds in thy hands?" {Zech 13:6a KJV}. Then he shall answer, "Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends," {Zech 13:6b KJV}. He came unto his own people and they received him not. So we are confronted right away in John's gospel with the darkness of the world, the blindness of men -- both Jew and Gentile alike -- that cannot see the Creator when he demonstrates his power in their midst, and cannot see the Messiah when he fulfills all the prophecies of the Old Testament. Ray Stedman

The sadness that these rejections bring makes the grace bestowed all the more amazing. To as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God, even to those who believe in His name. Receive Him; believe in His mighty saving name. "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12 No matter how well intentioned someone may appear when they say you can come to God by other names… they will keep you from a true encounter with the majesty and wonder of the One and Only.

It is through receiving the Son that you will become God’s child and He will become your father. No matter how old you are you need His fathering. No matter how bad or how good your earthly father is or was, you need to make the One who knows every nook and cranny of your heart and mind and soul, past, present and future your deepest fears and highest dreams your father. He is perfect in all His ways and He will teach you His ways so that you can walk in the light as He is in the light. He will give you a future and a hope. His love will never fail and He will accomplish His good purposes in your life. How can you say, “No.” to that kind of love?

MY PRAYER: There is no other name by which you are pleased to save. Let us never get over the wonder and privilege of being Your child. May all who come this way, revel in having a heavenly Father who is perfect in all His ways. Everything we need is found in you. In the name of Jesus, the One and Only, amen.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Joy in the Journey

Choosing the Good Part

I sometimes go back and read something I wrote and tweak or change it. When I read this one I had to smile because I have so much to do right now and frankly I needed Jesus reminder to not "be bothered by so many things," to fall fresh on me once again.
“But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42 NAS
There are times in our lives when events seem to spiral out of our ability to keep up. I experienced a time like that when we moved into our new home. We had built it ourselves to accommodate bringing my husband’s elderly parents to live with us. His father was an invalid and his mother was a semi-invalid. The weather had been atrocious and by the time we moved in our daughter’s wedding was only a month away. I had the total care of his parents during the day and since my daughter was far away in college the entire responsibility of the wedding details. I found I had no time to steal away for the Bible reading and prayer that had been the mainstay of my life. As the wedding drew near I found myself doing laundry with tears in my eyes and a deep burden on my heart. “Lord, here I am in such a critical place in my life and I have no time to spend with you in all this responsibility and activity. I feel so pulled and so lacking your peace.” I heard that still small voice that I so dearly loved saying simply, “Carol, I am bigger than your quiet time.” Suddenly I saw what had been happening to me. I had allowed myself to focus on the temporary loss of my “set apart” times with Him. A false sense of guilt had obscured the fact that I could commune with Him as I went about my day. I had a wealth of Scripture in my heart; nothing could keep me from enjoying His presence but a legalistic focus on the form. He knew at my first opportunity I would be back at His feet sitting and soaking in His presence.

That whole scenario was out of my control. Unfortunately I have scheduled myself into similar spots since then. During those times I’ve heard His gentle rebuke from Luke 10:41-42, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." At heart I am a Mary, but residing in the same house is a Martha who has to be reminded to let go of the unnecessary and choose the good part.

I invite you to do a heart check. Who is in control in your life? Is it Mary or Martha? If your circumstances are truly out of your control the last thing I want to do is put guilt on you. But please be honest…have you taken on more than you should and is it crowding out the good part? Ask the Lord to show you what to let go of. He will. He misses you.
MY PRAYER: Lord, thank you that we can abide in you as we go about fulfilling our responsibilities. Father help us not to allow busyness to crowd out that special time when it is just the two of us.
MY CONFESSION: Even though Jesus was the Son of God He would rise early to meet with His Father alone to listen and pray. Lord, I will follow your example.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Eyes of the Lord

"Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubim an immense army with very many chariots and horsemen? Yet, because you relied on the LORD, He delivered them into your hand. "For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.” 2 Chronicles 16:8-9b

I am always struck by the balance in the word of God between faith and works. To paraphrase what God said in 2 Chronicles, "Because you relied on Me, I delivered them into your hand." It was a battle where the odds were stacked against them. Look at the adjectives used to describe what was before them: immense, very many chariots and horsemen, no problem for a God who is just looking for someone He can strongly support. Unfortunately this falls in context of God telling them that in their current endeavor they would fail because they had reached out instinctively to others for help. The arm of flesh will fail them. God may direct you to any number of resources or give you specific directions however, He asks that you give Him that privilege.

I had a friend who was young in the Lord and growing fast. She had a tendency when faced with a dilemma to call someone she respected for sympathy/empathy or advice. One day when confronted with a situation she heard the Lord’s still, small voice saying, “You can take it to the phone or you can bring it to My throne.” That was a turning point for her. The Lord was training her to make her first instinct to turn to Him.

We know from Proverbs 11:14 that in a multitude of counselors there is safety. God never encourages us to be lone rangers who won’t accept or seek advice from those who are godly and mature. He simply want us to “In all our ways acknowledge Him and He WILL direct our path.” Proverbs 3:6

Stay connected to His heart and His life. Seek first His kingdom and ask for the grace to desire to know and obey His will.

MY PRAYER: I ask that you fix your eyes on me Lord, as I fix my heart on you. Help me not to look at the enemies and obstacles in my life but rely on You who are mighty to save and deliver. Lord, I ask that you root out everything in my life that would keep my heart from being completely Yours. I want to know You and in Your grace, know Your strong support. Thank You Lord for rewarding those who seek You. In Jesus’ name.

MY CONFESSION: My heart is completely Yours. My focus is in the right place. No matter what is coming against me, the God of heaven is my strong support. Whom shall I fear? You will deliver me from every enemy. I stand on Your Word.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Esther, The Whole Megillah

Just finishing up leading Beth Moore's Esther study tonight. I decided to review the whole study for the women and ending up writing it in poem form. Not great art...just great fun for me and hopefully a walk down memory lane for my fellow study mates. Here it is, don't cringe just go with it.

The story of Esther begins with a mess
A queen shuns her king in front of his guests.
He sends her away but to his great dismay
He begins to remember they had some good days.

His closest companions see his deep melancholy
put their heads together and came up with this folly.
We'll hold a contest throughout this great land
and base it on looks…could even God use this plan?

The one chosen queen is of God’s ancient seed
Mordecai stands unbending reed.
Haman likes people to bow and to scrape
but he finds that this Jew he can’t intimidate.

He delivers a plan that Xerxes approved
A time is set for Jews to be removed.
We learn there is a history behind this meanness
an ancient feud fuels this evil genius.

Mourning and terror grip the land
Mordecai steps forward to urge a plan
upon the queen who is uncertain of favor
who sees herself as an unlikely savior.

With fear and trembling fasting and prayer
Esther steps forward to see does he care?
She is resigned that one way or another
this is the pathway there is no other.

In the midst of the Jew’s desperate pleading
a king cannot sleep, he needs some dull reading.
He soon learns he’s an ungrateful lout
and sends out a call for who is walking about.

Haman’s hatred is boiling and building
a scaffold to impale a man who needs killing.
Instead he describes for the king the high honor
he wants for himself, but gets nothing but horror.

Parading through town surely he’s dreaming
Praising a Jew what could be more demeaning?
The handwriting is beginning to show on the wall
It seems that this Haman is starting to fall.

Three are sitting at a table or is there four
Is this human wrestling or is there more?
Esther appeals as Haman unravels
to his own scaffold he soon will travel.

Another edict is put into place
It flies through the land at a quickening pace.
Stand up and defend your home and your kin
If you need more days then the time we’ll extend.

So here we are at the end of this trail
King Xerxes, Queen Esther and Mordecai’s tale.
For those who have hearts taught by this story
The real King’s unveiled and reigning in glory.
It has been a wonderful study. Much better than this poem. If you get a chance to take it..I highly recommend it!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Before the Throne of God

Lavished By Grace

I have posted this before but I need a daily reminder to live lavished and I believe you do too.
Living Lavished

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us. Ephesians 1:7-8a NASV

When I read in the beginning chapters of Genesis, I am always gripped by the utter tragedy of the fall. How little do we comprehend the consequences of our choices whether for good or evil. I was once told that Satan will always tell us what it will cost to obey, but never the awful cost of disobedience. I was struck with the word in Genesis 3:24 that God drove Adam out of the garden. Then in Genesis.4:14 Cain uses the same word to say, "You have driven me from the face of the ground and from your face." Were more chilling and despairing words ever spoken? These words when pondered make me grasp the essence of hell itself. Not until Jesus cried out from the cross, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?" does anything come as close. And with that, the Son of God, the last Adam, laid down His life to lift us from the fall. I bow in gratitude that the wrenching despair of Cain will never be mine even though deserved. I am including a video to a song that was written in 1863 by a woman named Charite Bancroft. I have listened to this song in so many times I'm surprised the CD will still play. Just hearing the words helps us to understand what Paul meant in Ephesians 1:7 "In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us." Don't allow the enemy of your soul convince you that something done in the past disqualifies you from enjoying Him in the present. Isaiah shows the way back home to living before His face: Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon." Determine to live your life, day by day, with the knowledge that you have been lavished by grace and abundantly pardoned.

MY PRAYER: Lord, you are my pure and perfect plea and I come to your throne of grace to receive the help I need. I come dressed in your righteousness alone and therefore I can come boldly and gratefully.

MY CONFESSION: Lord, I have redemption through your blood, you have forgiven my trespasses and lavished me with your grace. I love you and I stand on your word.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Joy in the Journey

Becoming a Second Miler

"And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two." Matthew 5:41 NKJV

Jesus is speaking to his disciples about the Roman practice of commandeering civilians or their property (horses, oxen, camels, carts, etc.) to carry the luggage or equipment of military personnel for, in this case, one mile. Can you imagine how the Jews would chafe under a Roman soldier compelling them to such an inconvenience? I have to ask myself what would have been my attitude? I think I know. But Jesus………………..turns it all around. He tells us to totally change our attitude and go an extra mile. Can you imagine the impact such an attitude would have on the one use to being met with grim faced grudging compliance?

How many times do we forfeit a great opportunity to be a second miler? It is all about attitude and having no greater aim than to make our Jesus known. I don’t know what that would look like in your life or mine. It may be to allow that person behind you in the long pharmacy line who doesn’t look well to move ahead of you. It may be how you respond to a demanding spouse or employer. I don’t know. I do know the One who does know. What if we did something dangerous and asked Him what it would actually look like in our lives? What if we invited Him in to highlight the opportunities we have to become second milers? Are we willing? I would think there is an adventure in store for any who will ask in faith believing and then walk with Him to carry out what He shows us.

My Prayer: Lord, your ways are not our ways, and your thoughts are not our thoughts. We invite your presence through your Spirit to highlight our opportunities to go the second mile with those who need to see you. Teach us your ways for your glory. In Jesus’ name amen.

My Confession: Teach me Thy way, O LORD; I will walk in Thy truth; and will glorify Thy name forever. I stand on your Word! Psalm 86:11a, 12b

Run For Your Life

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Find Your Wings Mark Harris

Giving Children An Advantage

The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage. Proverbs 21:5a
And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4 NASV

I have mentioned before in one of my devotionals that I came to the Lord with very few good habits or character qualities. I was the youngest of 3 girls and for some reason my mom didn’t instill in me very much responsibility or life skills. My older sisters were left to take up the slack. I didn’t do things like make up my bed or clean up after myself by hanging clothes etc. Guess what? Those habits didn’t magically appear once I was saved. Every bit of discipline and good life management skills that I have came in a long and slow process. To grow up with good habits and life skills coupled with spiritual wisdom is a huge advantage.

I don’t care how smart or gifted or spiritual you may be I don’t think we can underestimate the value of good habits. So, I am writing this to encourage anyone who has a hand in raising children to model and lovingly help them to develop good habits. Children are sponges and they are soaking up the character, habits, and life skills displayed in your home. My challenge to you is to realize that you will never have a greater opportunity to impact lives and shape character more than your children, or if you are fortunate to have them near, your grandchildren. They are watching and absorbing their habits and life skills from you. They are learning many lessons whether you are aware of it or not.

  • They will learn teamwork or the lack of it by observing how their parents work together and with others.
  • They are learning stewardship by the way you take care of your house, yard, car, clothes, shoes, etc.
  • They are either learning to do things when they feel like it or the discipline of doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done. They are learning to be either diligent or procrastinators.
  • They are learning to take care of their bodies with good eating and health habits or they are going to learn self-indulgence and disregard of the consequences.
  • They are learning how to handle money wisely or foolishly.
  • They are learning to put God first in everything or keep Him on the periphery of their lives. Does any little distraction keep you out of church or are you faithful?
  • They are learning genuineness or hypocrisy by whether both your public and private behavior is consistent.

    I am not talking perfection. Neither God nor children expect us to be. No one gets it totally right. But we should be prayerful that we wisely use the opportunity of a lifetime to make an imprint on young and impressionable lives.

    MY PRAYER: Father, we need your wisdom and your power to model wise behavior and habits for the children in our lives. All your habits were good and we want to be like you. Help us to instill love for you and diligence in our children. In the name above all names, amen.

    MY CONFESSION: Lord you say in Proverbs that the hand of the diligent will rule. You also tell us if we lack wisdom all we have to do is ask and believe and you will give it. We receive the wisdom we need to influence our children from you. We stand on your Word!