A Place Called “Better is”

morning-mist

Above the fog

“Better is…” a place where we do not see clearly. A place we must rely on God’s Word.

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.  Psalm 84:10

Better to have nothing and see God’s glory,
Than to have everything in darkness.

Better to be last with Jesus,
Than to be alone at the top.

Better to mourn and receive comfort from Jesus,
Than a thousand days of laughter without hope.

Better to be merciful and receive mercy,
Than trying to justify yourself before God.

Better is to humbly follow Jesus,
Than pursue all the wisdom of this world.

What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?  Mark 8:36

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.  Proverbs 3:5-7

Hope in Midwinter

morning mist

Morning light on a cold day

In the dead of winter, it is the hope of Spring that keeps us going. In the same way, knowing the promises of God, and leaning upon them in our struggles gives us hope, that provides strength to go on.

Remember Your word to Your servant,
for You have given me hope.
My comfort in my suffering is this:
Your promise preserves my life. Psalm 119:49-50

Light and Life

As I watched the sunrise this morning all the colors and beauty made my heart sing praise.

For in You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light. Psalm 36:9

Music by Aaron Copland / Sunrise over Leavenworth, WA / time lapse photography by Stephen Hufman / beauty, glory, joy, and praise all belong to God. Merry Christmas

 

Coming Before the Throne

Before the Throne

At Heaven’s gate

Trying to write, but I am so uninspired and sleepy.
Trying to pray for a good friend who has terminal cancer, but I am so lifeless in prayer.
Trying to live for my Lord, but I am so weak and easily tripped up.
How wonderful is my great high priest who sits enthroned at the right hand of God.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16

My soul soars to His mercy seat and I fall before Him in thanksgiving.

Flying Through the Morning Mist

Morning Mist Along the Wenatchee River

Flying through the fog of fear

Life is like this scene along the Wenatchee River—shrouded in fog. I am often unable to see clearly to know what lies ahead. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Christians at Philippi, encourages us to to move forward not letting our past sins and fears bind us and prevent our advance.

“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,…” Phil. 3:13

So I made my own list of the things I need to forget:

Past sins and failures that have been forgiven.
Past ugliness and pain.
Fear that I don’t have what it takes to keep going.

Trouble is to forget I need to replace my fears with something that encourages, and clears the fog of uncertainty as I move forward. This is why I also need to remember:

Jesus Christ died for my sins, and now I am new in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Jesus loves me and is my faithful shepherd. (John 10:11)
God is building me up in Jesus to do good things. (Ephesians 2:10)
Nothing can separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:39)

When you can’t see ahead moving forward depends on what you let your mind dwell upon. (Phil. 4:8)

When Anxiety Presses In

lightening-7628

Fear of Fire

There are certain memories that I can’t allow my mind to dwell upon, or my anxiety takes charge. It is like thinking of sharks when you’re swimming in the ocean. When my angst starts to rise I must fall at the feet of Jesus and ask Him for help. Otherwise, I get all wound up and stress out. On the last occasion, when my fears started to rise, the Holy Spirit reminded me of John 17:26.

I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.

According to Jesus’ prayer for me, He will continue to make the Father known to me “in order that the love God has for Jesus may be in me.” Wow, how amazing is that? The love God has for the Son is placed upon and in me. The simple reason for this is the Holy Spirit places Jesus in me. Think of it, the creator of all things in me. When I set my mind to dwell upon this prayer, my anxiety and depression begin to bow before Jesus, and I can start to breath again.

Do Not Be Afraid

Do not be afraid for He has risen

Do not be afraid for He has risen

These words are said to us from God over and over. Starting with Moses and the Children of Israel:

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut. 31:6

On and on through the prophets:

Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.               Jeremiah 1:18

And to the final completion in Immanuel:

Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades. Revelation 1:17-18

So whatever you face today, walk humbly with our risen Lord and “Do not be afraid.”

Grace and Peace

Winter Along Icicle Creek

New snow, new day, peaceful and serene along the Icicle Creek

The scene is the Icicle Creek near Leavenworth WA. The photo was taken the morning after a snow fall in early winter. All is at peace with only the rushing of water for background music. I like to think of this moment as God’s salutation to me:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Every letter in the New Testament begins with this greeting. The reason is grace and peace go together, with the gift of grace comes the gift of peace (see Romans 5:1). But I have to admit, often in accepting God’s forgiveness, I fail to also receive His peace that comes with it. Instead my mind falls into old ruts that rob me of the fullness of grace.

These are my ruts. I am sure you can add others to this list:

Grace and “Don’t let it happen again!”
Grace and “What a mess you’ve made.”
Grace and “You’re no good.”
Grace and the temptation to give up on myself.
Grace and fear.

Truth is I need help to receive all that God wants to give me. I need His help to put down the cacophony of lying voices in my head. I need His grace applied not only to forgive my sins, but also to let His peace rule in my life. Quite simply, I need grace upon grace.

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. (John 1:16)

Therefore, as you live by God’s grace don’t let your thoughts lie about the conditions of His grace. Instead ask for grace upon grace, so that you can walk in the peace that God has for you in Jesus Christ.

Grace, like new fallen snow, covering everything with His peace.

Oh my, I never realized.

Image

The Sleeping Lady silhouette is an iconic feature of the Icicle Canyon. Moments before fog hid the this scene from me. As I started to leave disappointed in the endless gray the clouds parted and I thrilled at the beauty that had been there all along.

I have times when grayness covers my life I am discouraged. It is then I think of this moment and hold onto Jesus trusting he has something marvelous just beyond my vision.

“Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”  Ephesians 5:14

Sleeping Lady

Sleeping Lady, Icicle Canyon