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Psalm 84

1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
O LORD Almighty!
2 My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.

3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.

4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.
Selah

5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.

6 As they pass through the Valley of Baca,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools. [b]

7 They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.

8 Hear my prayer, O LORD God Almighty;
listen to me, O God of Jacob.
Selah

9 Look upon our shield, [c] O God;
look with favor on your anointed one.

10 Better is one day in your courts
than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold
from those whose walk is blameless.

12 O LORD Almighty,
blessed is the man who trusts in you.

I am in love with this psalm right now… Oh how I want to dwell in his courts all day…

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Mercy

God, I am a great sinner.  I have let it get the best of me.  I know I can’t anymore.  You have something for me.  I need it.  I reach for it.  Cleanse my wickedness that breaks your heart and mine.  Clean deep inside of me.  Clean my mind  and my heart.  Thank you for your mercy.  I need it so…. thank you for helping me up.

Home

So, it’s great being here.  I have finally made it.  It’s great being around my family again.  But strange also.  As I sit here, I can only imagine the great things God has planned for me here.  I just hope that I can see them and sieze them.  I’m nervous, excited, panicked, crazy,  and hopeful all at the same time.  I know that God shone a light here, and God shone a big spotlight here.  So, I know this is where I am supposed to be.  I just don’t know why.  I know in time God will reveal it to me, I just hope he covers me in patience until then.  I’ve never been good at being patient.  I guess I just want a life.  People, places, all the above, and I know that takes time, and thats where patience comes in.  Thank you Father for getting me here safely, and for bringing me home.

Great Britain

I had such a good time the other night with Matthew and Kathy.  They are so encouraging to me as they are running after God’s heart and push me to do that.  They allow me to help them when I can, and vice versa.  It’s so amazing to know that such cool people chose me to be a close friend.  Captain EO was amazing, I think I remember it but barely;  so amazing!  And who can’t have a good time with fish and chips at Great Britain!

I love this movie.  I especially love the ending of the movie.  Here Sebastian is standing, holding in his hands, the entirety of Fantasia.  All that is left is the last grain of sand. 

Bastian: Why is it so dark?

Empress Moonchild: In the beginning it is always dark.

Bastian: What is that?

Empress Moonchild: One grain of sand. It is all that remains of my vast empire.

Bastian: Fantasia has totally disappeared?

Empress Moonchild: Yes

Bastian: Then everything has been in vain.

Empress Moonchild: No, it hasn’t. Fantasia can arise in you. In your dreams and wishes Bastian.

Bastian: How?

Empress Moonchild: Open your hand.

Empress Moonchild: What are you going to wish for?

Bastian: I don’t know.

Empress Moonchild: Then there will be no Fantasia any more.

Bastian: How many wishes do I get?

Empress Moonchild: As many as you want. And the more wishes you make, the more magnificent Fantasia will become.

Bastian: Really?

Empress Moonchild: Try it.

I am realizing that my life is what I make it.  A large part of it anyway, and if I’m never willing to go out there and chase my dreams, then how am I ever going to end up ‘making it.’  I have had a poster in my room, the says, ‘Dare to Dream.’  And I don’t think I ever have, and I realize that I havn’t made my dreams happen, or even work towards them.  So, now with this grain of sand, I need to get to work.

Of Oz and God

I read this today from an old book I had by Max Lucado, it is called When God Whispers Your Name. Here is an amazing chapter that I read…it really isn’t all that long, but very powerful.

You, me, and Dorothy of the Wizard of Oz – we have a lot in common. We all know what it’s like to find ourselves in a distant land surrounded by strange people. Though our chosen path isn’t paved with yellow bricks, we still hope it will lead us home.
The witches of the East want more than our ruby slippers. And Dorothy is not the first person to find herself surrounded by brainless, heartless, and spineless people. We can relate to Dorothy.
But when Dorothy gets to the Emerald City the comparison is uncanny. For what the Wizard said to here, some think God says to us.
You remember the plot. Each of the chief characters comes to the Wizard with a need. Dorothy seeks a way home. The scarecrow wants wisdom. The tinman desires a heart. The lion needs courage. The Wizard of Oz, they’ve heard, could grant all four. So they come. Trembling and reverent, they come. They shiver in his presence and gasp at his power. And with all the courage they can muster, they present their requests.
His response? He will help after they demonstrate their worthiness. He will help as soon as they overcome the source of evil. Bring me the witch’s broom, he says, and I will help you.
So they do. They scale the castle walls and make wax of the witch, and in the process, they make some startling discoveries. They discover they can overcome evil. They discover that, with a little luck, a quick mind can handle the best the worst has to give. And they discover they can do it all without the wizard.
Which is good because when they get back to Oz the foursome learn that the wizard is a wimp. The curtain is pulled back and the almighty is revealed. The one they worshiped and feared is, alas, a balding, pudgy professor who can stage a good light show but can do nothing to solve their problems.
He redeems himself, however, by what he shows this band of pilgrims. He tells Dorothy and company that all the power they need is the power they already have. He explains that the power to handle their problems was with them all along. After all, didn’t the scarecrow display wisdom, the tinman compassion, and the lion courage when they dealt with the witch? And Dorothy doesn’t need the help of Oz almighty; all she needs is a good, hot-air balloon.
The movie ends with Dorothy discovering that her worst nightmare was in reality just one bad dream. That her somewhere-over-the-rainbow home was right where she’d always been. And that it’s nice to have friends in high places, but in the end, it’s up to you to find your own way home.
The moral of the Wizard of Oz? Everything you may need, you’ve already got.
The power you need is really a power you already have. Just look deep enough, long enough, and there’s nothing you can’t do.
Sound familiar? Sound patriotic? Sound. . . Christian?
For years it did to me. I’m an offspring of sturdy stock. A product of a rugged, blue-collar culture that honored decency, loyalty, hard work, and loved Bible verses like, “God helps those who help themselves.” (No, it’s not in there.)
“God started it and now we must finish it” was our motto. He’s done his part; now we do ours. It’s a fifty-fifty proposition. A do-it-yourself curriculum that majors in our part and minors in God’s part. “Blessed are the busy: this theology proclaims, “for they are the true Christians.”
No need for the supernatural. No place for the extraordinary. No room for the transcendent. Prayer becomes a token. (The real strength is within you, not “up there.”) Communion becomes a ritual. (The true hero is you, not him.) And the Holy Spirit? Well, the Holy Spirit becomes anything from a sweet disposition to a positive mental attitude.
It’s a wind-the-world-up-and-walk-away view of God. And the philosophy works. . . as long as you work. Your faith is strong, as long as you are strong. Your position is secure, as long as you are secure. Your life is good, as long as you are good. But alas, therein lies the problem. As the Teacher said, “No one is good” (Matthew 19:17). Nor is anyone always strong; nor is anyone always secure. Do-it-yourself Christianity is not much encouragement to the done in and worn out.
Self-sanctification holds little hope for the addict. “Try a little harder” is little encouragement for the abused.
At some point we need more than good advice; we need help. Somewhere on this jouney home we realize that a fifty-fifty proposition is too little. We need more – more than a pudgy wizard who thanks us for coming but tells us the trip was unnecessary.
We need help. Help from the inside out. The kind of help Jesus promised. “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever – the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept him, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him because he lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17).
Note the final words of the verse. And in doing so, note the dwelling place of God – “in you.”
Not near us. Not above us. Not around us. But in us. In the part of us we don’t even know. In the heart no one else has seen. In the hidden recesses of our being dwells, not an angel, not a philosophy, not a genie, but God.
“Are you in there?” Could it be what they say is true? It wasn’t enough for you to appear in a bush or dwell in the temple? It wasn’t enough for you to become human flesh and walk on the earth? It wasn’t enough to leave your word and the promise of your return? You had to go further? You had to take up residence in us?
“Do you not know,” Paul penned, “that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?” (1 Corinthians 6:19).
Perhaps you didn’t. Perhaps you didn’t know God would go that far to make sure you got home. If not, thanks for letting me remind you. The wizard says look inside yourself and find self. God says look inside yourself and find God.
The first will get you Kansas.
The latter will get you to heaven.
Take your pick.

The Woods

The Woods

The woods are viscious,

they are fierce.

Sounds creep around like bees buzzing in the air.

The wolf howls.

The hawk is sqawking.

The owl is whooing.

You are alone.

You’ve never been so alone in your entire life.

The moon is hiding behind the clouds and the stars haved joined her.

There is no one to guide you with light, no one to help.

It’s just you.

There is rustling in the trees…
They begin to shake.

Something is there, and edging closer.

Your heart rate is going up.

What do you do?

Do you run? Do you hide? Do you play dead?

You decide to stand your ground. You decide to hold the line.
You don’t really want to, but know you don’t have much choice when you can’t see where to run.

What is it? What could it be?

A dog wanders out.

It looks so familiar.

You’ve seen this dog before, you know it.

It’s your dog. It’s just hard to tell in the darkness of the forest.

You got lost when you decided to go walking on your own.

With no light to see, you thought you were lost beyond saving,

but your friend had hunted you down. And with his help, you realized that you were only a few steps from your backdoor.

When there is no light in your life, your mind can play tricks on you.

You can think you are indescribably far from home, when you are right around the corner.

I’m a sheep.

Stubborn, painfully so.

Lazy, only wanting to wander the hills.

I tried being my own shepherd once.

I thought I could do it on my own.
I thought I could find my own pastures.
I thought I would find beautiful sweeping vistas, with stunning views.
I thought I would find endless meadows full of joy.

So I left the flock.

I took off.

I headed South.
The land looked pretty enough.
What I had heard of it was what I had always dreamed of finding.
I heard other sheep talk about it.
So why shouldn’t I be able to go find it?
So I did.

But I was missing something crucial to my survival.
You see, I’m a sheep.
I can’t shepherd myself…if I could do that, then I would never have needed a shepherd.

I tried making it.
It was difficult, but I finally made it to where I had set out to.
The problem was, that it wasn’t what the other sheep had talked about.
The scenic vistas were full of trash…
The meadows were burnt and the grass was gone…
The hills were brown…
The trees were barren…
The ponds were dried up, with no drop to drink.

In an instant, it had hit me.
I’m a sheep.

Who was I to think that I could find peace, happiness, and joy by myself?
I’m a sheep.
I’m a sheep who had never been satisfied with where my shepherd had tended my flock.
I always heard rumors that there was better.
But I know now they were only voices hoping those places existed, not that they really did…

The only place that I had ever felt safe was in the shepherd’s arms.
The pasture where my shepherd kept us was green. Greener than green.
The ponds were filled with water.
The meadows waving in the cool of the day.

I had always tried to find reasons why the shepherd didn’t know everything…
And why the shepherd could be wrong.

But in the moment looking upon the Southland, I realized in an instant…
That the shepherd was right all along.
That the shpeherd had dearly loved me.
That he had only wanted the best for me.

So I went home.
I found the area where I knew I was getting close when I saw a member of my flock.
He came running toward me, screaming all the way.
He told the shepherd that I was back.

The shepherd out ran the other members of the flock.
He came and picked me up.
He told me how he had looked for me far and wide.

You see, I’m a sheep.
And without my Shepherd, I am nothing…

My Place

So guess what?

I have a house now!
Exciting huh?

I sure thought so….

You know what’s even better?
It was free…
It was given to me!

Does it get any better?
Actually, even though you may not believe me, it does.

I’m going to have a housewarming party!
A massive party, and y’all are invited.

You see, I have a house waiting for me…
Well, not really a house, better than that.
A mansion.

Don’t you just love how that rolls off of your tongue?
Mansion…..
European palace? Asian court?
Nope, even better.

You see, this house wasn’t built by human hands.
It was built by the same architect of the stars and the forests.

So I don’t have to wonder if it will be colonial, cotemporary, or Greek-revival.
I just know, that it will be a sight to behold.

I’m so excited! I can’t wait to move in!
Now, just a little while longer.

As for the housewarming party? I’m not the one throwing it.
That will be done by the King.

How many can say that a King has welcomed them home?
Pretty special huh?
And it was all for free…
It was given to me from a very special offer.

Christ has already purchased a mansion for us all…
All you have to do is one day move in.

God in Nature

I decided a couple days ago to go out to Chewacla to spend some time with the Lord. Its a state park near Auburn for those that don’t really know where that is. Anyway, my purpose in going out there was just to spend some alone time with God, and while I was out there, He opened my eyes to a few things that I normally wouldn’t think aobut at all. He taught me several life lessons just through his handiwork of His creation and nature.

1) The Clear Stream
As I was walking through the area, I noticed three distinct different water sources which are very important. First of all, the fast moving creek. The water in the creek is moving at such a fast pace that it always stirs up the dirt, silt, and other objects within the creek to give it a muddy and dirty appearance. This can happen in our lives when we have too much going on, that quickly the more we pile on ourselves, the more we try and strain ourselves, the more polluted we can be come in our everyday lives. The second water source was that of a stagnant pond. Within this pond, it was evident that there was a lot of bacteria growing within it as there was much algae and other fungus surrounding it as well. The oppisite of moving fast, if we don’t progress at all, and or are bogged down with laziness, this can be reflected within our spiritual lives as well. If there is nothing to stir the pot, then nothing will ever change, and therefore we will only slowly die by never being challanged spirtually. The third body of water though was that of the clear stream. This wasn’t near as big as the creek but also bigger than the pond. As well, the water current moved not too much to churn up the silt at the bottom, but also just enough to cause the stream not to stagnate. This is the path that would build up our spiritual lives by not trying to progress too much at once, and while also not deciding to stagnate either.

2) The Dying Tree
As I was walking along the path, I decided to stop and sit for a bit. When I leaned up against a specific tree, it cracked. This tree was a fairly large tree, I think an oak. It wasn’t an enormous one, but still one of decent size. How ever as soon as i leaned against it, it cracked and fell backwards and crashed onto the ground. I was kinda surprised at what just happened. The reason being because of its size for one but also becasue of the fact that it by no means looked dead or sick at all. The leaves were all green on and budding on the outside, and their were many more starting to come through. But when I went and looked into the inside of the tree, there wasn’t much left. I looked in and almost the entire interior was gone. Termites had almost entirely emptied the inside and all the was left was the still healty looking exterior. Sometimes we as people can seemingly have everything together and looking good, complete, happy, when ultimately on the inside, many of us are dying. And, all it takes is one small event that can bring us and all of what we had built to come crashing to the ground.

3) The Waterfall
When I came to the the waterfall, God revealed something else to me. If you look at the water above the falls, the water is as smooth as can be, barely a ripple on the surface. Once it goes over the edge though, the water is turned and tossed about. The water can turn into rapids, with foam on the surface shown the agitation of the water. After another series of falls, the water slowly but surely becomes peeaceful once again. The rapids convulsed the water, but once the last fall had been crossed, the water slowly but surely mellowed out to what it had been before the first fall. Eventually, the water would slowly make its way down the creek calm and peaceful once again. This can be many of the ways our life goes as well. We don’t necessarily always see the falls and rapids coming ahead of us. We are just enjoying the calm stillness of our lives when all of a sudden, the bottom drops out. The amazing thing to realize is that even when we are in the mist of our greatest shaking and we don’t know what to do in our lives, God will ultimately bring us through the situation and leave us with peace at the end of it.