Living Water

100_3515Vibrant. Brilliant. We eagerly scoop up the luscious looking stones in various colors and put them into our treasure bag.  “Look at this one Mom,” Hannah shows me a brilliant red stone and Rachel carries over a green stone.

Back at the camper we reviewed our finds and empty the treasure bags filled by the lake. Now dry, the stones looked dull and drab.  Ordinary.  Having lost their luster, we couldn’t even tell which stone was whose.  They looked nothing like the treasures we eagerly picked up along the lakeshore.

Before frustration and disappointment totally set in, I grabbed a bottle of water and poured itLake Rocks over the rocks in my hand.  Once again, the colors burst forth like fireworks on a hot summer night.  In my hand I once again held the colorful treasure now restored.

What made the difference?  It was the water.  Devoid of water the stones look like nothing more than driveway stones worthy of a toss. The water made them appear alive and vibrant and something to be treasured.  Much like us.

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“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” – John 7:38

It’s the Living Water or Christ in us that makes us appear vibrant and brings life into our souls.  It’s the Living Water that keeps us from leading a lackluster life. When we become parched, dry and distant from the Living Water, our spirit is rendered barren, and cracked.

Crevices are where things can hide or take root. Our spiritually dry fissures become places where the enemy can gain a foothold. These gaps take the form of looking the other way at sin, or justifying ungodly behavior. The dark dry places of our hearts are fertile ground for secrets and apathy.

“but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I 101_8292will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” – John 4:14

Immersing ourselves in the Living Water regularly is crucial to living a life that glorifies the Lord. When we are infused with His truth and His presence, our lives can’t help but reflect Him.  When we radiate His presence, people are attracted to HIM in us. His goodness and mercy and grace shine brightly in our lives.

We were drawn to the stones for their beauty.  It was their reflection in the water that caught our attention. Like the stones bathed in water lively sparkled and beckoned to us, a soul swathed in the Living Water becomes a beacon.

We weren’t made to be a lackluster, dry, stone that is cast aside or overlooked.  We shouldn’t want to be a treasure missed. We need to be saturated with His presence. We want to be a brilliant find, one that can point the seeker to the source of water that will never run dry.

POINT TO PONDER: What does your life currently reflect?  Are there places in your life that could benefit from a good dousing of Living Water?  Some creative ways to connect with your Creator were listed on the blog here:  Feel free to connect with me, I would love to share some ideas and encourage you.

Check out #HOPEscope the Weekday Show on www.periscope.tv at 7:15 am featuring quick devotion and prayer to start your day HIS Way!

 

Hand crafted by God

 

It was Palm Sunday when the photo of my soon to be 21 son came onto my phone.  My eyes were drawn to Jacob’s hand. Attempt 2 at china photo The one that was boasting a thumbs up on a 12,000 foot peak. In China.  China?  How did my little boy go from lying on the floor and playing with Matchbox cars to a Man on top of a mountain half a world away.  How did his chubby little fingers turn into the strong man hand that found its way to China?~Time.

cross in palmEarlier that day, because it was Palm Sunday, I was contemplating the hands of Christ.  Now I know that Palm Sunday is really about the branches…from a palm tree.  But my wordsmith mind was busy juxtaposing the whole vine and branches and nails in the palm and what must it have been like for Mary.

Mary, the mother of Jesus and the first holder offolded hands Jesus’ hand.  Her son too found himself on top of a mountain.  I wonder what she thought. When she received Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh as baby gifts did it plant a seed of knowing or did the whole trajectory of Holy Week take her by surprise? Culminating by weeks end with the raw groaning pangs of seeing her little boy’s palms brutally pierced and bleeding.

Her boy was innocent.  He was falsely accused. Her hands were tied, his fate was in the hands of his Father. I can remember going to bat for my son when he was falsely accused and standing up for him in his defense.  Mary didn’t have that chance.

101_9456Pontius Pilate washed his hands of Jesus which sent him to the cross.Palm Sunday forced my thoughts back to the hands.

God’s hand shaped and formed universe and he breathed life into all of humanity.

For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the LORD “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word. ~ Isaiah 66:2

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The hand of God punished.

“You who have forsaken Me,” declares the LORD, “You keep going backward So I will stretch out My hand against you and destroy you; I am tired of relenting!” ~ Jeremiah 15:6


The hand of God saved and protected.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”~ Isaiah 41:10

His hands Healed.

Hands in fountain“Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” ~ Matthew 8:3

His hands offered proof.

“And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord.” ~ John 20:20

From His beginning and from ours we have been in the palm of His Hand.  He goes with us, he will never leave us.  He never lets go of us.  He was pierced for our transgressions.  He was falsely accused and willingly executed on our behalf.  When life becomes a handful, remember who is really holding it all together.

Point to Ponder:  Has there been a time when you truly felt the hand of God in your life? How did you know it? What did it feel like?

Leave a comment about how you knew and felt the hand of God guiding you.

Those who comment AND sign up on the email list (top right) will be considered for a drawing of a special Kissed by the Creator token crafted by the hand of God.  Totally Genuine and Nothing Artificially Added.  Prizes will be awarded on April 15th!

Enter Today!

 

Under Fire…

Unfathomable.

Photos and descriptions of the fires devouring the Colorado landscape are incredibly overwhelming.  Watching the force of the fire knocking things over before it reaches its hot fingers out to engulf all that is in its path.  Witnessing the devastation in the wake of the walls of fire and watching the depth of despair in all those who have lost due to the devouring wave of flames is heartbreaking.

It’s with incomprehensible sadness we observe the gripping saga of our friends in the west.

As I prayed for the firefighters, the people in the towns awaiting orders to evacuate, I felt the word Hell seared upon my soul.  The scene and those who have experienced the wildfire’s wrath have described it as “hell on earth.”  It prompted me to ponder Hell.

I wait anxiously to learn if my friends in Colorado Springs have anything left to return to at all or if their home and possessions fell victim to the indiscriminate path of the destructive fire.

One of them has been working with the fire fighters at the base camp where the toll on these brave warriors has been immense.  From flora and fauna to wild life to townsfolk, nothing has been left unscathed. 

But for most of these people, life will go on.  It will be a long road of restoring what the fire destroyed…but for those who end up in Hell, there will be no second chances.  Sadly what we are seeing in Colorado could be an eternal reality for those who don’t know about the message of salvation.

Just like the firefighters working tirelessly to save people, pets and property…we should have a compelling urgency to rob Hell of victims to engulf in despair. Each time I see the flicker of a flame on the news, I pray “God use me”.

Years ago, my best friend’s dad was severely burned and scarred.  She said there wasn’t just a physical transformation as he adjusted to a life of scars, she said he was spiritually transformed as well.  “Dad was never the same after experiencing the burning of his flesh.  He said it gave him just a taste of what Hell might be like and inspired him to try to reach more people with the Life saving message of eternity with Jesus,” she explained.  These recent fires are igniting a passion in my heart for the same.

I am sure this post will be challenged by people who wonder if there really is a hell.  It’s not a gamble I am

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willing to take.  My prayer for Colorado is Rain and Restoration. My prayer for the unsaved is to Find Salvation. My prayer for myself is to be courageous to reach those whose future is destined to be charred by the choice of unbelief.  Will you join me?

Point to PonderIf you thought hell was even 1/10th of the intensity of a forest fire, would you wish it on anyone?  Is there someone in your life you’d like to share Jesus with? I pray you have wisdom, courage and the words that will change their heart.

(Photos on the page except the one at right were from a Colorado Friend’s Facebook Page)

Mirage – Tasting sand or tears?

Still working on my class about Connecting with our Creator through his creations and I am exploring how the Bible mentions weather as teacher and consequence.  While looking at an old homeschooling resource about weather, I stumbled on a section on mirages.

 “A mirage is defined as: a naturally occurring optical phenomenon in which light rays are bent to produce a displaced (distorted) image of distant objects or the sky.

It is a real optical phenomenon which can be captured on camera, since light rays actually are refracted to form the false image at the observer’s location. What the image appears to represent, however, is determined by the interpretive faculties of the human mind.” (yeah its wiki but its right and in plain English)

“Peary could clearly see the mountain tops of “Crocker Land” across the polar ice pack, but it was only an Arctic Mirage.” (Copyright Lee Krystek, 1998)

Looking at images of mirages and reading stories about people fooled by them, either in the deserts, on mountain tops or even on deserted highways, something sparked in my mind.

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To have a mirage you must have heat and pressure.  Satan dwells in hell which is a hot place.  How often does he use a “mirage” of sorts to make something sinful or wrong seem acceptable? The father of lies  turns up the heat and distorts our view pressuring us to stumble.

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This happens when we take our eyes off where God wants us to be like when we don’t seek him before we leap into a new direction, relationship or ministry. 

A mirage may fool us into believing  that person seems way more kind and Godly than our spouse, that promotion way more lucrative, that opportunity way more inviting.  Perhaps the mirage makes us think that movie or TV show or that music is way less offensive and vile.

We are tricked into a distorted image of reality.  But we are ripe for it, if we’ve let our vision stray from the truth and the source of light – God.  Even NOBLE deeds can be mirages if they are NOT in accordance with God’s plan for our lives. Pursuing them, leads to disobedience.

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And like a thirsty soul in the desert uses his last bit of strength to fall hard over the hill to the oasis below, we fall hard into sin and the lies of Satan.  And for us, just like that thirsty soul, the reality is ugly when we hit the bottom and see the miragefor what it really is – a lie.  Heartbroken the desert dweller gasps sand and we who’ve broken God’s heart and possibly the hearts of others taste the salt of our own tears.

Point to Ponder:  Are you sucking in sand or tasting salty tears due to chasing a mirage?  What steps do you need to take to for a reality check. How can you fix your eyes on the true source of light?

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Fool’s Gold (Guest Blogger)

Guest Blogger: Pastor Chris Gibbs of CrossWay Church

“You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men” (Mark 7:8).

In the late 1840’s, the Gold Rush was in full swing. Everyone was eager for the certain riches and wealth, prestige and success that would come from discovering the life-changing powers of gold. What many people found, however, was not gold, but was pyrite, knows as “fool’s gold.” They found this with excitement, abandoned their search any further and went about to trade this “treasure” in for the life-change they were dreaming for. To their great disappointment, they found that what they had only “looked like” what they were really seeking. They had settled for a fake.

The Pharisees, like many in our current society, were more focused on the the disciples of Jesus did not fit into their traditional and “acceptable” mold. They had traded seeking the face of God, the true gold, for seeking the praises of men, and judging every man against the standard of appearance. They judged Jesus’ disciples’ hearts based on how they followed traditions, rather than how they followed God. They equated godliness with appearance, ritual, and tradition.

It is so easy to get caught up in the trends and styles and leave the commandment to worship God alone. He IS the true gold. Everything else is a fool’s copy. Styles are not my god. Traditions are not my god. Opinions of people are not my god. Jesus IS my God. I live my life to honor Him. He is the One who matters to me and how I live each day.

If we live each day this mindset, we will live blessed with Jesus. He is more valuable than gold, silver, and precious rubies. Our minds and hearts must be set on Him. Be encouraged today to seek Him, not to settle for anything less than the One, True, Living, and Loving God!!

You can read more here http://www.chrisgibbs.net/

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Wind of HOPE

Recently our town was buffeted by winds of more than 40 MPH for several days. As I lay in bed waiting for the roof to be ripped off, I thought when will it tire? How much wind is there?

This wind was relentless it just kept coming as if the supply was infinite.

I looked outside and could not see the wind during the day or night.

The wind was invisible but the results the next morning were tangible. Recycling bins had toppled spewing forth plastics from blocks away. Branches and sticks laden with buds were strewn across the yards  like tombstones marking the death of the tender leaves that would never see spring.

Hope is like that. You can’t see it with your eyes or touch it with your hands. But hope or the lack of it leaves tangible evidence. It is amazing that the presence or lack of something so intangible can be so significant in our lives.

Martin Luther said, “Until a person experiences suffering, he cannot know what it means to hope.”

What does the Bible say about hope? In Hebrews 6:19 the NKJV it says:

This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil…

The Bible refers to HOPE as our anchor, but what’s more, it says that HOPE allows us to enter into the presence of God. Since the Lord’s presence is where all the treasure and life-giving, life-sustaining power is – that is where we need to be. We need to maintain our hope.
Herman Melville said, “Until we learn that one grief outweighs a thousand joys, we will not know what Christianity is trying to make us.”

Worse than whatever pain we are dealing with or crisis we are experiencing is that hopelessness that comes with a sense that there is no purpose or value to the pain.


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Sorrow can cause our prayers to cease. We begin to doubt and ask “How can a good God allow anything so bad?”

Sometimes in these situations, holding on to hope requires that we let go of EVERYTHING else.

The Bible records several examples of prayers that were not answered the way the petioner hoped. First, we have the family of Lazarus who prayed he would not die. He died. But Jesus eventually raised him from the dead, giving GOD bigger Glory and building the faith of many. We have Paul who prayed fervently 3x to have the “thorn in his side” removed. It never was, yet this man went on to have a successful ministry and his perseverance has given countless Christians hope. Then we have Jesus, the son of God, who prayed to have “the cup removed” from him prior to his death. It was not removed. God allowed his son to be tortured and killed which resulted in our Salvation and eternal life.

So when we are enduring, it really might not be about us. It could be about giving others HOPE to endure and believe in a God who’s strength they see lived out as we walk out our grief.

How do we hold on to our hope when the storm comes? I believe it has a lot to do with what we do when times are good. Building our relationship with Christ through daily prayer and study of His Word creates a foundation with deep roots which can anchor us when the storms come.

“In my deepest wound, I saw your glory and it dazzled me.” ~ Augustine

No one could probably relate more to deep wounds than Joseph in the Old Testament. Few innocents endured more pain and suffering than Joseph. He was sold, beaten, imprisoned, falsely accused, and imprisoned again. But his twelve years of trials put him in a position where he could spare a nation from starvation AND bless his own family. There are no pity parties recorded as he faced his trials.

One of my favorite Hymns is “It is Well with My Soul” the story behind it is amazing. Horatio Spafford (1828-1888) was a wealthy businessman who lost his only son to illness and then much of his wealth in a fire in Chicago. He and his family scheduled a trip abroad to recover from their heartbreak. His wife and four daughters set sail before him. The ship they were sailing on was broadsided by a tanker and sunk within ten minutes. The cable he received from his wife said, “Saved Alone”. It was on his way to his wife that he passed the spot in the sea where his four daughters perished – and there above the dark waters during the darkest of his days he penned the words:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

Why was Horatio able to withstand such tragedy?  He was connected with the Creator. We grow relationships by interacting. The relationship with our Creator is also forged by interaction. Daily interaction in the form of prayers and study of his word, helps us form a foundation that is not easily shaken.

He becomes our anchor and what we tether ourselves to when the storm hits.

Point to Ponder: What are you tethered to? Where do you place your hope? When the storm comes, will you be ready?

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Power of a Name

Pondering the dog. Yes at 6 a.m. the thumping of a lab tail can only mean one thing. Someone said the name CAMEO. She knows her name.
The minute someone says her name she jumps to attention. If you are going she’ll be on your heels. If she’s doing something naughty she stops instantly at the sound of her name. Her name – simply spoken, evokes immediate response.
At the pool there can be hundreds of kids but the MOM! Yelled from one of my children stops me in mid stride, mid sentence, mid bite – whatever I am doing, immediate attention is shifted to the calling child.



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Our Creator has many names.
ELOHIM: God “Creator, Mighty and Strong”
EL SHADDAI: “God Almighty,” “The Mighty One of Jacob”
ADONAI: “Lord”
YAHWEH-JIREH: “The Lord will Provide”

YAHWEH-RAPHA: “The Lord Who Heals”

EL ROI: “God of Seeing”

From the Old Testament through the New Testament scriptures abound of people calling on the name of the Lord and Him answering in their time of need. Whether for rain or for dry land, wisdom or power, protection or offspring, God routinely answered their call.

In the Old Testament it says  “…whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD [YHWH] shall be delivered.”(Joel 2:32) In the New Testament it says “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Acts 2:21)

When I am in doubt or in trouble I call on the name of God. He is listening, even when it doesn’t seem like it. God has a name for every need we have. Like a parent who can sense their child’s desperate cry, the maker of us, knows our voice when we cry out.

No matter the need our God already knows it, he just wants to be asked to help. My friend calls Him “Daddy God”. She never had a real father and God was the only Father or “daddy” she knew.

God will not force himself on us. Allow your Heavenly father to be involved in your needs. No need is too big or too small. Call on his name like David did when he defeated Goliath, like Moses did when he bumped into the Red Sea, like Daniel did when the lions were circling.

That same God who helped David’s aim, parted the waters and closed lion jaws is waiting for your call.

Point to Ponder:
Do you have a Goliath, a Red Sea or some circling lions in your life? What is holding you back from calling on the name of God?

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