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Beep of Death

communication-1472636_640 There was urgency in the continual beep heard down the hallway. It clearly indicated something was wrong and I sensed it wasn’t good. Overtaken with panic, my steps quickened as I hurried to find the source of the warning signal that pierced the air.

When I opened the door, computer monitors and tangled cords greeted me. I pawed through the jumbled mess and located a thin black box. The back-up drive was no bigger than the palm of my hand and contained years of photos, business documents, e-mail archives and personal data. It was my lifeline in the event damage occurred due to hardware malfunctions, viruses or corrupted files.

As the beep of death resonated from my lifeline all hope of restoration was swallowed into the abyss of digital darkness. Years of effort vanished in an instant.  It was a wake-up call that gave pause to how I had outsourced the back-up plan for my spiritual life.

Computer memory is very different than biological memory. A computer receives and stores information in the form of data. The human brain, on the other hand, takes that same information and processes it into knowledge which is stored as a living memory.

There is an advantage to a living memory over stored data.  When we commit something to memory we are less likely to lose that knowledge. This is especially important for Christians.  To outsource our spiritual life to digital technology is an open invitation to the beep of death.

There is no digital equivalent to physically opening your Bible to read and memorize scripture. It is a process that takes God’s Word from our minds, to our heart, to our lives. His Word become alive within us and is a lifeline that never malfunctions.

Knowledge benefits our life. Information, on the other hand, is merely an accumulation of facts that can overload us with useless information. This type of data clutters our back-up lifeline. The risk associated with fragmented data is the beep of death

The acquisition of more information doesn’t necessarily increase knowledge or wisdom. In fact, the plethora of stimuli and data at our fingertips can invoke a feeding frenzy where information is ingested, but never digested. The influx of information is more likely to bring distractions.

To continually ingest information but neglect to cultivate that information into knowledge deprives us of wisdom.

“The one who gets wisdom loves life; the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.”
–Proverbs 19:8

Do you have a back-up plan in place for your spiritual life? At a moment’s notice, a life malfunction could trigger the beep of death and spiral you into darkness. Would you be able to recover?

You are not a Jeopardy contestant; there is no value in useless information. Instead, focus on the pursuit of knowledge so that you may acquire wisdom and seek understanding in all things.

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Living Within the Lines

Live Within the LinesWhen I was a kid, a box of crayons and coloring book could occupy me for hours on a rainy day. It was a free for all with crayons erratically scribbling outside any designated boundary. To stay inside the lines wasn’t a consideration; I was a budding artist.

When finished, the colored page was given to mom who praised me for a job well done and displayed it on the refrigerator door until she found a polite excuse to remove it.

In adulthood the only time I color is with my kids or grandkids and when I do, it’s rare to find a clean page to color. The kids have scrawled over every page in the book with total disregard for the printed lines or direction they move their crayons. When I do find a blank page, I am quick to exercise my proprietary rights and ban squatter privileges to anyone under the age of ten.

For me, a blank color page exemplifies a new start in life; a new beginning in my walk with Christ. It’s like a form of therapy in times of stress and uncertainty.  Every circular motion of the crayon is a reminder to stay within God’s boundary lines for the best outcome. I grow and flourish in my strengths, find comfort, serenity and healing when I choose to be obedient to God’s will.

There is a spiritual awakening that occurs when we discover God’s lines don’t confine or hinder us, but rather provide healing to do the impossible within us. His boundary lines are defined by grace, balance and love. To give Him control of our crayon box is to give Him control of our life.

Are you frustrated and confused about your circumstances and question God’s purpose for your life? Is your life going in every direction and cluttered with scribbles that extend outside the lines of grace?

I encourage you to ask God to help you color inside the lines of HIS will. Our Heavenly Father can color inside the lines of our life better than anyone else.

“Stay always within the boundaries where God’s love can reach and bless you. Wait patiently for the eternal life that our Lord Jesus Christ in his mercy is going to give you.” Jude 21

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GO FOR THE GOLD

medal-390549_640I watched each Olympic gymnast run down the floor mat and jump onto the spring board. They catapulted onto the vaulting table with calculated precision in preparation for a perfect dismount. They knew every twist, turn and flip of their body could cost them a medal.

Countless hours of training had placed these athletics in a position to compete for the gold. They were disciplined, dedicated and driven to succeed in this competition but even that didn’t guarantee victory.

Slips of the foot on the balance beam, out of bound dismounts, body alignments and falls were critically judged. It required total perfection to win and every mistake or miscalculated move would be deducted from their final score. Pardon or favor by the judges was not an option.

I am not an Olympic gymnast nor do I participate in competitive events. However, I do train, practice and take part in Christian living. It is an affirmation of faith that requires a lifestyle based on Biblical principles.

Like Olympic gymnasts, there are times I make mistakes, lose my footing and fall. In those nebulous moments, I question the futility of my Christian commitment and wonder how many more times I can fail before being eliminated? The answer is NEVER.

In Christian Olympics there is only one judge that determines who receives the gold and His name is God; Elohim, (Creator and Judge of the universe). With divine knowledge God judges the actions, spoken words and hidden secrets of our hearts. All mankind is a participant and the only way to win is an admission of our unrighteousness and an invitation to make Jesus our Savior and Olympic coach.

To accept Jesus into your heart means imperfections are forgiven; they are no longer counted against you. The blood He shed at the cross covers the curse of sin. Like the Apostle Paul, the finish line is the Olympic goal of every Christian.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness is laid up for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but to all who crave His appearing. 2 Timothy 4: 7-8

Feeling defeated today? Are you ready to give up because you’ve lost your footing on life’s balance beam? Maybe you’re faced with life changing events that have caused you to lose your grip or have fallen from grace and overcome with brokenness.

Whatever your story and wherever you are in your faith, the Righteous Judge is near. He longs to show loving compassion, forgiveness and pardon from all your ineffectual attempts to participate in life without His help. He stands ready to coach you to the finish line and award you the crown of life.

“He knows the way I take; when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” Job 23:10

The trials that test our faith are more precious than gold. So, go for the GOLD!

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Tried by Fire

soapshardsAs the owner of a soap making company, I often test soap product for quality assurance. While cutting into a block of soap base, I noticed the soap crumbled leaving soap shards everywhere.  My heart sank realizing this soap formula might be a total failure. I quickly called my chemist for advice.

There are many different formulas used in creating a soap base. Oil types, raw materials and filtering processes all play a role in the final product outcome.  My chemist explained the lab’s decision to use a mixing process to eliminate small white particles had actually caused the base to become harder.  The harder base was creating the crumbling issue.

Before revising the formula, I decided to test the soap to see how it performed when heated. The soaps my company sells are a melt and pour type. The soap is cubed, melted in a microwave and poured into plastic molds. Once the soap sets up, it is popped out of the molds and ready for use.

My heart raced a bit as I released the first batch of test soap. So far, it was good. Now came the critical moment of cutting into the soap. Would the soap slices be clean and worthy of use or would they crumble and break? I carefully made my first cut. It was a perfect bar. A clean cut refined by nothing more than heat and resulted in a harder, long lasting bar.

As I pondered this, I was reminded how Jesus said Christians are “refined by fire to result in praise and honor when Christ is revealed” (1 Peter 1:7). In our Christian walk we sometimes crumble beneath the shards of life and wonder if we can ever be whole. Rest assured, when the heat is turned up, the particles of brokenness are refined and we become ready for use in the kingdom of God.

Just as my soap base was refined by the microwave furnace (so to speak) so is our life in Christ refined by the brokenness we experience in life.  The furnace heat produces gold. It produces something beautiful out of all those crumbling shards. Let Christ be your chemist, let Christ turn up the heat and the final product is guaranteed to be a success.

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Finally…

finallyI tend to live my life in ‘finally’ mode where moments and events are crossed off a mental checklist. It’s like running a marathon to an unknown finish line. There are pit stops along the way, but instead of savoring the moment, I can’t wait until I can finally be on my way again so I can finally arrive at a future moment and finally reach the unattainable finish line.

It’s a destination to destination lifestyle that never takes pleasure in getting there.

The well-known idiom ‘getting there is half the fun’ doesn’t apply to me. I prefer being emailed or beamed to my destination; to heck with stops along the way. I’ll enjoy the trip when I finally get there which translates: OK, we’re finally here, let’s get a move on.

To operate in finally mode robs us of any opportunities to interface with life’s daily moments. There are no exclamation points between each finally, only a trail of dots. Jesus spent his earthly life journeying from one destination to another and a myriad of exclamation points followed Him because He never lost sight of His purpose.

So what is God’s purpose for me and you?

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21 (NIV)

We can opt to chase the dots to our next destination, but if the journey isn’t divinely appointed, it’ meaningless.

God purpose for us is to have an intimate relationship with Him based on faith, worship and a heart that desires spiritual growth and a Christ-like character. Short and sweet, God wants to be the blueprint for our temporary residence on earth.

When I find my direction in life disoriented by the finally mode, I know it’s time to slow down and partner myself to the One who guides my steps according to His purpose. Our daily moment’s become anointed as we allow God’s purpose to navigate our life.

When life is finally over, I want God to say WELL DONE (followed by a multitude of exclamation points).

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My Avenger (El Nathan Neqamah)

venganceJonathon Wild was a notable thief and master manipulator. He appeared to be on the side of the law by offering London police his assistance in finding stolen goods, but he was the thief.

Wild ran a gang of thieves who kept the stolen goods and waited for the crime to be announced in the newspapers. He would then claim that his agents had found the stolen goods and return the items to the rightful owner for a reward.

The story of Jonathon Wild is just one of the many betrayal stories recorded throughout history. Even the pages of Scripture are no exception . Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss of death; King Saul sought to kill David even though David had served with loyalty. The Book of Judges shares how Delilah betrayed Samson’s when she allowed the Philistines to shave his hair.

Our first response to betrayal is anger and to seek our own form of revenge. Licking our wounds isn’t an option; we want a payback and we want it to be worse than what was done to us. In the case of Jonathon Wild, his duplicity eventually became known and he was hanged before a massive crowd. Forgiveness wasn’t an option to those he betrayed.

For Christians, forgiveness is the only option when others deceive and fail us. It isn’t our job to take revenge. We are called to forgive in the same way Christ has forgiven us. That’s a bitter pill to swallow when every fiber of our body cries out for vengeance. It might feel good for the moment, but when we react on our own, we are essentially telling God we don’t trust Him to handle every situation.

“It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.” Deuteronomy 32:35 (NIV)

Nothing is hidden from the eyes of God and when He exacts revenge it is done objectively. Our biased opinion isn’t needed to determine just recompense. God needs us to let go (forgive). If we can let go of the experience and our desire for revenge, we can move beyond the betrayal. The negative emotions associated with the betrayal may remain unchanged and that’s OK.

The act of letting go helps us look past our hurt and anger and resign our case to the final jurisdiction of El Nathan Neqamah* (The God Who Avenges Me).

Is it time for you to let go and trust God to right the wrong?

*Play for Pronunciation

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ADONAI Ori (The LORD is My Light)

psalm27_1

I awoke earlier than usual this morning. In the quiet twilight of dawn the Holy Spirit, as only He can do, prompted me to pray for those who carry grief and sorrow in the secret places of their heart. One friend in particular came to mind but I felt impressed to pray for others. I didn’t know the secret heartache of many, but God did.

In the stillness of the hour I meditated on the goodness of God and watched as daylight slowly edged its way through the dark morning skies.

        “You, LORD, are my lamp; the LORD turns my darkness into light.”
         II Samuel 22:29

Isn’t that just the way God works with the sorrow and grief we conceal in the darkened corridors of our heart? When the blackness of night casts shadows of hopelessness upon us, along comes daybreak to penetrate our heart with random words of encouragement or acts of kindness. Our hope and strength is renewed for a season as our darkness turns to dawn.

Today, I pray you find His light in the presence of your darkness and that your sorrow is turned into joy. From the rising of the sun to its setting, give praise to God. For praise is the clearest and most direct means of showing our total dependence on God in the midst of darkness.

Even King David endured periods of darkness in his life. He responded with praise and God brought deliverance. Psalms 27, written by David and sung in Biblical Hebrew, gives insight into how this song may have been heard by the listener when first written.

Listen to Psalm 27