FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Do You See What God Sees?

Years ago a colleague (Mary) said, “One day you look in the mirror and you ask yourself who in the world is that?  You feel so young in spirit and even in mind, but your neck, hands and that person in the mirror will tell you otherwise!”  I laughed, and Mary simply said, “You’ll see.”

It’s 23 years later, and Mary’s “prophecy” has come true!

I tried to blame it on the mirror.  You know, since research has proven that there are “skinny” mirrors (sometimes used in dressing rooms to make you appear slimmer in clothing and to boost sales), I figured there must be “old” mirrors though for the life of me I cannot imagine why someone would create one.  And who would buy one though obviously I had one?  But there they are…crows feet, scratching all around my eyes.  Take heart, they’re not alone; the gray hairs in my brows are keeping them company!

What do you see when you look in the mirror?

Do you see that you were fearfully and wonderfully made? (Psalm 139:14)

Do you see the apple of God’s eye? (Psalm 17:1)

Do you see God’s treasured possession? (Deuteronomy 7:6)

Do you see that you are made in the image of God? (Genesis 1:27)

Do you see what God sees?

Satan offers us trick mirrors.  He would have us see ourselves as less than our God created us to be.  In his mirrors we see all our shortcomings. We see our struggles and inferiorities.  We see shame and embarrassment.  We see the stain and guilt of sin.

But if our life is hidden with Christ in God – if we have accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, then whenever God looks at us, He sees Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God covering us.

Superstition says it’s bad luck to break a mirror, but I say smash whatever mirror Satan keeps holding before you and look into the mirror of God.  See what He sees – YOU – His child. (John 1:12)  A new creature. (2 Corinthians 5:17)  A fellow heir with Christ. (Romans 8:17)  The righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)  A temple of the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:17)  One who is chosen, holy and blameless (Ephesians 1:4), redeemed and forgiven (Ephesians 1:7), complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10) and dearly loved (Colossians 2:12).

Now that’s the mirror you need!

THIS WEEK, take a look in the mirror.  Do you see what God sees?

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Testing, Testing

It’s a balmy 68 degrees outside!  What a wonderful mid-February surprise and treat.  The forecast for the end of the week announces more February-like temperatures like a Thursday high of 36 degrees.  But right now at 4:30 in the afternoon, it’s 68 glorious degrees.

And I am in the house!  Stuck creating a test that my students have to take Tuesday.  I need to get it posted on Blackboard, so today is the day to create that test.

With it being 68 degrees outside and the sun shining through the window and me on my laptop with notes spread around me as I create a test, you can best believe my mind has REALLY been tossing about the question of why test?  Not just my students and not other school students, but us.  Why does God test our faith?

God tested the faith of the ancient Israelites by allowing them to experience hard times in the wilderness, “in order to know what was in your heart” (Deuteronomy 8:2).  And He likewise tests us.

We think we know what is in our heart.  We think we know how strong we are.  We think we have a steadfast, immovable, abounding faith.  But it is only in times of testing that we move beyond just thinking and come to KNOW.  God does not test us because HE doesn’t know; He tests us because we don’t know.

David prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” (Psalm 139:23)

Now, my students surely did not ask for Tuesday’s test.  As a matter of fact, they have an option to complete another assignment and NOT take the test.  A few have informed me that they are choosing this option.  Like them, we would sometimes like to opt out of the test, to have a choice to maybe complete another assignment.  But like the Psalmist, we should cry out to God asking Him to test us and to show us now – in the good times, in the calm times, in the easy times what is in our hearts – our places of weakness.

When I score my students’ tests, I spend even more time writing feedback so that they know and understand exactly why they received the grade they did.  I want them to understand any shortcomings in their responses.  THAT is how they learn and how they grow, especially on the interim assessments because THE test is coming – the Final Exam.

We have a Final Exam coming too!  My students can look at the Course Syllabus and see the exact date and time of their exam, but we do not know when the end will come.  My students have a window of time in which to study and prepare.  They may not study every day, but they understand the finite calendar before them.

We do not know how long we have to prepare, so TODAY is the best time for us to prepare.  TODAY is the day for us to seek God and to petition His testing so that we will know, understand and grow.

THIS WEEK cry out to God.

(1)  Ask Him to search you, to know your heart, to test you and to show you your weaknesses.  Be open to and welcome the knowledge of any shortcomings He shows you. (James 1:2, 4).  Then ask Him to help you grow in your trust and faith in Him.

(2)  If you are in the midst of testing – whether it is from God or testing that He has permitted, do not seek another assignment, but ask Him for what is needed for you to go through.  Do not spend time asking Him “why” but rather ask “what.”  What would He have you to know and learn from this testing?  Identify and recruit prayer partners who will commit to praying with and for you during this season.


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You are HERE

How did we survive before GPS?  I mean really!

When I learned to drive, road maps were all the rage.  I have very vivid images of my dad sitting at the kitchen table with his maps spread out and a World Atlas at his fingertips.  He would sit there for hours planning our family vacations, mapping the routes, making note of the connections, turns and exits.  I thought he and my sister were amazing the way they could recall and discuss highway numbers… “Turn right onto 42 and go about 37 miles then take NC 97 North to 301.  You’ll go about 12 miles then merge onto Interstate 95 North.”

I well remember my first solo trip with a road map.  Like Daddy, I sat at the kitchen table, spread the map, made my markings and jotted notes.  I was going on a job interview and, worried enough about that, I wanted the travel to be uneventful.  I even used the little scale in the bottom corner of the map to calculate mileage and approximate time.  All along the way, though, I had to keep stopping on the side of the road to consult my trusty road map.

Three things are important when planning a trip using a map – knowing where you are, where you need to end and which direction you need to travel to get there!  And therein lies the beauty of GPS.  The screen shot always includes a big arrow indicating YOU ARE HERE.  That’s good news to any driver!

Want some even better news?  Not only are you “HERE,” so is God!  He is everywhere!  He is with you!

Joshua 1:9 (ESV) reminds us to be strong, courageous and without fear or dismay because the Lord, our God, is with us wherever we go. Deuteronomy 31:6 (ESV) echoes the same encouragement adding a reminder that He will never leave nor forsake us. David asked, “Where shall I go from your Spirit?  Or where shall I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7-10, ESV) In the heavens, in Sheol, in the uttermost part of the sea – even there David said we find God’s hand which shall lead us and hold us!

I find that latter thought to be particularly encouraging because I live in the boondocks, and I frequently drive rural highways.  This means I regularly lose signals for my telephone and GPS.  The “GPS Lady” often tells me she is rerouting.  I suppose rerouting sounds better than “I don’t have a clue where you are.”  When the GPS loses its signal, I am left to go it alone trying to read road signs while I drive.  That is not only frustrating, it is unnerving, especially if I am traveling an unfamiliar and not well-marked route.  Whenever the signal reconnects, the GPS offers instructions to correct whatever mis-turns I may have taken and tries to get me back on track.  It’s rare, but sometimes GPS cannot get it right and I have to rely on other sources like stopping strangers to ask for instructions or accessing Google Maps on my cell phone.

Our God never loses connection with us though we sometimes choose to ignore the promptings of His Holy Spirit.  Now there are times when I know better than the “GPS Lady.”  She tells me to turn left and I am looking at a ONE WAY sign or a ROAD CLOSED sign, so I know not to follow her directions. But our God gets it right 100% of the time! Isaiah 40:13-14 asks, “Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, Or as His counselor has informed Him? With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding? And who taught Him in the path of justice and taught Him knowledge and informed Him of the way of understanding?” The answer is NO ONE! He is omniscient and omnipresent, so He knows and He is with us. He is also faithful, so we can trust that He is with us, just as He promised, wherever we are.

There are times when we ignore God’s directions or believe that we know better.  Surely when God has us on a route that is bumpy or one that is twisted or winding or scary or lonesome or dark even, He has made a mistake, somehow gotten it wrong.  No, it is not God that has gotten it wrong, it is our perspective that is limited while God is finite.

Question God?  Be puzzled by His directions?  Surely, but never doubt.  Even Abraham had questions about God’s directions and decisions (e.g. the destruction of Sodom), but Abraham obeyed in faith.  He never mocked, rebelled or cursed God.  Abraham knew what we can know as children of God and that is that God is Here, right here with you!

THIS WEEK earnestly seek God’s direction for your life.  Charles Stanley offers seven words that will help us in seeking His direction. Study, meditate and pray on one word each day this week. (Cleansing, Surrendering, Asking, Meditating, Believing, Waiting, Receiving). Find more at:  http://www.intouch.org/you/article-archive/content?topic=seeking_god_s_guidance_article#.VMV5UrAo7IU


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Cleaning House

My parents were Neatniks – especially when it came to housekeeping.  Saturday mornings began with my dad inspecting our closets, our drawers and under our beds.  Everything had better be hanging (and in order) or folded (and sorted into the right drawer).  And, in his words, “There shouldn’t be anything under your bed except the floor!”  If just one piece was found not properly folded or in the wrong drawer, he dumped the entire contents of the drawer into the center of the bed and you folded everything again.  Sometimes he would “help,” but I really think that was more about keeping an eye out to make sure the work was done to his satisfaction.  Seems to reason that I soon learned to be organized.

My maternal grandmother was likewise organized and one of my aunts was fanatically neat.  Following in their footsteps (and fearing my dad would appear out of nowhere with a dust mop or broom in hand), I became a super neat housekeeper.  But I didn’t last.

It’s not that I have become a slob (those who know otherwise, Shhh), but I just shifted priorities along the way and determined a level of neatness and a level of messiness that I can live with.  I also learned some secrets to making your house appear cleaner than it really is when guests visit.  My mother told me to buy lower wattage light bulbs and to use lamps instead of overhead light.  A friend told me to boil a little cinnamon and water on the stovetop – you get that “fresh baked goods” aroma.  A colleague taught me to drag the edge of a book across the carpet to simulate vacuum cleaner marks and to keep an empty basket available for collecting miscellaneous small items like magazines and phone chargers then all the items can easily be stashed inside a closet or (forgive me Daddy) under the bed.  And finally, someone told me that you don’t let guests stay longer than 30 minutes because the longer they stay, the more they notice.

Isn’t this just what some people do with their lives?  They clean up the outside and focus on outward appearances.  Or they know secrets to making their lives look clean.  A lot of stuff (sin) gets swept under rugs, stashed in closets and stored under beds.  But we read in 1 Samuel 16 that the Lord looks at the heart.  It does no good to “look like” a Christian or even to “act like” a Christian if the heart is not clean.  Consider the cries of the psalmist, first in Psalm 139:23-24 (NIV) – “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” and then in Psalm 51:7 (KJV) – “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

Your Heavenly Father will, just as my earthly father did, show you the places in your life that need cleaning. He will also help you, washing you whiter than snow.