A Lovely Place to Be

Devoto Memorial Cedar Grove, Lolo Pass, Idaho

For you bless the godly, O LORD; you surround them with your shield of love. Psalm 5:12 NLT

How good is God’s love that surrounds me like a shield?
When anxious thoughts assail me,
Your love is my shield.
When the accuser showers me with his words of guilt and shame.
Your love and forgiveness douse the flaming arrows.
When travails beset my family,
Your love is the stronghold that I pray in.
When my body feels lame with pain,
Your love is my strength to take another step.
When my mind stumbles and I fear what that portends,
I can walk through the darkest valley because Your love lights my way.
Though I slip and fall,
Your shield of love will be steadfast to the end and carry me home.

Jesus said, “Don’t be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me.There are many rooms in my Father’s house. I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you.After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back. Then I will take you with me, so that you can be where I am. John 14:1-3 NLT

A Long Way Off

Are we there yet?

Have you ever felt a long way off from God? Thankfully, God won’t settle for mediocrity or distance in our relationship to Him.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful… I am the vine you are the branches.” John 15:1-2,5

I admit I am easily distracted from being in, walking with, and depending on… Jesus. Often I have forgotten that this closeness to Jesus is the whole point of God’s grace. In truth, it is the joy of my salvation. Forgiveness is but the first step. Drawing close to the Lord and bearing fruit is the joy.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:20-21

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8

Take joy in the journey, for God wants you close so you can bear fruit for Him.

Light and Life

New every morning

The commandments of the Lord are right, bringing joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are clear, giving insight for living. Psalm 19:12 NLT

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.
Proverbs 14:12 NIV

Following the LORD can seem arduous, and often it will run against what we wish to do. But eventually doing what is right in the sight of the Lord will bring joy and light to living. On the other side, going our own way may seem best at first, but though we don’t see it coming, it will lead to death and destruction.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10 NIV

If you have already messed up to where life looks hopeless, I urge you to throw yourself before the LORD for His mercy never fails.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23 NIV

Now go and do what is right in God’s eyes.

In the Midst of Fear

Tree gnome’s fearful face

My fears can get pretty big at times. That is why I need a fear that will push aside all the fears of life. Paul, in Acts 9, encountered the fear that pushed everything in his life aside:

He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” Acts 9:4-5

We all need the fear of the Lord in our lives.
Fear of the Lord helps me to do what God wants, even when I don’t understand why.
Fear of the Lord lets me face trials and know He reigns supreme. He will bring me through it.
Fear of the Lord gives strength to my faith.
Fear of the Lord gives hope to any situation, no matter how dire.
Fear of the Lord empowers my prayers, for I know nothing is impossible with God.
Fear of the Lord changes me completely, just like it did Paul.

But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
    on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,

to deliver them from death
    and keep them alive in famine.

We wait in hope for the Lord;
    he is our help and our shield.

In him our hearts rejoice,
    for we trust in his holy name. 

May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
    even as we put our hope in you. Psalm 33:18-22

Where there is Fear there is no room for fear.

The Joy of My Salvation

Exuberance

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and make me willing to obey You. Psalm 51:12 NLT

What a wonderful prayer.

I know the verse says Your (God’s) salvation, and I have put “my” in there. Truly it is God’s salvation of me, but now it is my joy also. This joy struck me as I was praying this morning—God’s salvation, my salvation allows me to commune with Him. That when I pray for people, the mighty power of God will be brought to bear for good in all situations, no matter how dire. Prayer with real purpose is part of the joy of Your (my) salvation. How good is that?!

Resurrection Sunday

He is risen!

We celebrate the day that God put His Life into life.
The day His infinite power brought everlasting goodness.
The day the light of His glory pierced our darkness.
The day His ultimate sacrifice infused us with joy.
The day hope replaced our hopelessness.
The day of our new beginning.
The day of music and laughter instead of sorrow.
This first day of our forever with Him.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.  1 Peter 1:3-4

Old Familiar Moon

The earth and heavens await the rising of the sun

I look up and see the moon,
so familiar I cease to wonder.
Today is Good Friday,
so familiar I cease to bow.

“I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms,…” Ephesians 1:17-20

On another note, my latest book is now out, “The Arrogant Death of Dr. Jones.” An allegory to show the importance of faith, hope and love.

“There must be some mistake!” Dr. Jones screamed when he felt the sudden crush of a heart attack.

At the peak of his medical career, the heart of Dr. Jones teeters on a knife’s edge between life and death. As the medics administer CPR, he finds himself transported to a gray mist. There he is trapped by his arrogance. His skin burns if he tries to approach the glorious light of heaven. But closing in from the shadows is the horrific stench of hell.

Crying for help, heaven sends three of his former patients. People whom he had discounted as worthless. They become all that separates Dr. Jones from his arrogant death…

Will he listen?

Humble Lichen

Lowly lichen brightens the bark on a Ponderosa Pine

God opposes the proud , but gives grace to the humble. 1 Peter 5:5

Humility is an overlooked essential ingredient in grace.

Without humility, you do not know your desperate need for God’s forgiveness. You remain in denial. – “I’ve done pretty well with my life.”

Without humility, the shame of your life keeps you from grace because you don’t deserve it. – “How could God forgive the unforgivable?”

Without humility, you will not accept God’s grace because you won’t submit to the authority of Jesus in your life. – “I want to be in control.”

Without humility, you’ll want to somehow earn God’s grace. – “I’ve never taken anything I didn’t earn.”

God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago. Ephesians 2:8-19 NLT

You can’t generate humility. Even here you have to ask for God’s help.

Ascribe to the Lord

Jesus forgives me,
When I can’t forgive myself.
He redeems me when I feel unredeemable.
The Lord lights my life with His mercy,
When all I deserve is the darkness of my ungodliness.
Only by faith can I accept God’s grace and mercy.
Which He holds out for me to receive.
For the Lord rejoices over my redemption,

Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save,
nor his ear too dull to hear. Isaiah 59:1

Nothing is impossible for God.
The Lord guides my steps into righteousness,
Even when I can’t see because of my shame,
Jesus will rescue me from all my enemies,
even when I am the enemy.

Sing to the Lord a new song,
for he has done marvelous things;
His right hand and his holy arm
have worked salvation for him. Psalm 98:1

I fall at the feet of Jesus for He has done great things for me.
His glory brighter than the sun.
His mercy greater than all my shame,
His righteousness surrounds me,
His love breaks the strongest chains,
His faithfulness never fails,
His power and goodness are everlasting and will never diminish.
His love is better than life,
His love gives life to my life.

Ascribe to the Lord, O mighty ones, 
Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. 
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; 
Worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness. Psalm 29:1

Delightful Inheritance

Icicle Ridge from East Leavenworth Road

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:5-6

“I have a delightful inheritance.”
One guaranteed by God’s strength,
not mine.
In that assurance,
I rejoice.
Through His grace I know I’ll partake in it.
By His grace I am brought close to Him.
Jesus will never leave me.
This knowledge is too wonderful for me.
From His grace God fills my day with His goodness.
The promise of His grace imbues my tomorrows,
with His love and mercy.
The joy of my salvation spreads out to eternity.
I rest in His peace.
What a delightful inheritance.