Majesty Over Mountains

I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. (Psalms 121:1-8 NLT)

Is it the mountains that gives us breath? Look past the mountain. Look beyond the mountain, further than those purple mountain majesties, just for a moment. No matter how majestic, how ginormous, how impressive a mountain view is, how powerful the force of an avalanche or the eruption of volcanos, none of that power can compare to our Lord, who created those impressive masses. And if He has the power to create something so powerful, His power can help us in any and all of our situations.  

What is so encouraging about this passage of scripture is the idea that God does not sleep. Let that sink in for a moment. He isn’t like the picture of a stereotypical TV dad, who after a hard day at work, just wants to relax and sit in a chair and we (his children) are sitting there buggin’ saying,

 “C’mon dad, lets go play! C’mon dad, can we go get ice cream? I need help with my homework, so and so is being a pain, will you tell him to stop!”

 And he is just sitting in his chair, saying, 

“Oh, for the love of Me! Can’t you see I have been slaving away all day creating the universe and making sure the tides go in and out!? Your fellow man has been filling up the streams with their all their garbage and now I have to re-adjust the ecosystem so y’all don’t implode! I really don’t have time for whatever your little problem is right now! Figure it out yourself!”

God doesn’t say that. Scripture says He will not let you stumble. He doesn’t need to rest, therefore we are always protected. This doesn’t mean that bad things won’t happen to us, things we don’t expect or events we would rather not have to go through. All experiences, good and bad, are a part of life. But these verses are clear promises from God. He stands by us as protective shade.  

 “The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.” 

 Do you ever have moments when thinking back to your teens or 20’s and all the stupid stuff you did and think, I should be dead right now, why aren’t I dead, all the dangerous stupid stuff I did, I really should not be living right now. Yet, here we are, with God watching over our life. And even if we come and go, even when we take our self will back, He keeps watch over us now and forever. Outside of time, outside of space, outside of our circumstance.

What is it you need help with today? Pray to Him, the Maker of Heaven and Earth and He will supply all your need.   
  

Vision[Airy]

Panic is our great enemy.
We don’t need to become desperate. If overwhelming problems appear in our life, we need to stop struggling. We can tread water for a bit, until our equilibrium returns. Then we can go back to floating peacefully down the gentle stream. It is our stream. It is a safe stream. Our course has been charted. All is well.
Today, I will relax, breathe, and go with the flow.-Melody Beattie, Language of Letting Go

I often picture a stream in my meditations. When I am in need of peace, I visualize floating on a tube, the sun dappling through the willows, the tube successful at staying out of danger. When I feel fearful, my vision is signified by rocks that tear my tube, rapids I need to journey through and logs that get in the way; the vision automatically turns the blue green clear water with a clean pebble bottom to murky sticky waters with storm debris riddling the shore. The blue sky turns gray and I must stop, turn my thoughts to a better vision and pay attention to the self talk. Is it negative? Positive? Am I putting more emphasis on circumstances and less on God’s character? It is interesting that in my mind’s eye I see dangerous waters as negative yet in real life I try to see it as adventurous. I wonder how I can bring my subconscious to a more courageous look at the storms in life. When I face struggles, it makes me feel powerless and unsure of my safety and brings panic on, the loss of control and the unknown of the future. By focusing on the character of God, it quiets the waters and brings the sunlight of the spirit into the dawn.

Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31 NLT)

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Keeping it Real

People are looking for a formula to their problems, pray the right prayers, do the right things, don’t do the wrong things, we are looking for excellence in our lives and while the 12 steps of recovery helps us do that, helps us to know how to line up our works with God’s will…we sometimes miss the point…in becoming more self aware, which is totally a good thing, the focus stays on us and not up.

So how do we move from inward to upward so we can share outward?

Once we are [re]born of the spirit, that is our life’s breath. We must try to never doubt and worry, but follow where the life of the spirit leads. The point of it all is Jesus. The point of it all is understanding the relationship between father and son and our role in that. Our relationship with the father son and Holy Spirit. What habits or routines do you have in place that keep the focus on your relationship with God? What habits and routines keeps you distracted?

step 11: We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. Colossians 3:16

There are all kinds of different in the world. What practices that keep me close to God may not work for you. I love going on hikes. The fresh air and beauty of creation, the birds, the sounds, the feel of walking rough terrain, they all remind me of God. To others though, these things may be a big fat distraction. Bugs buzzing, over stimulation of leaves and trees and rustling of branches. Taking a walk in the woods may be hell on earth for you.

For a few years in my childhood, my parents and I lived in the woods of northern Minnesota. We spent a brief season in a tiny log cabin that had no insulation (you could see it snowing through the cracks in the logs), no running water and no toilet. We did not even have an outhouse.

I was getting potty trained at the time, it is amazing how quick you learn how to squat over a log when you are scared a skunk is gonna come and spray you. It is worse in the summer when mosquitoes are biting you…or when you find a nice, secluded, lush, green spot to do your business, perhaps you find some great leaves to clean up with. And then you find yourself in a field of poison ivy. Yes, take it from me, there are fields of poison ivy. I even once squatted over a tick nest (unbeknownst to me) and had woodticks everywhere…I’m talking EVERYWHERE!!!

I think we take for granted running water. I think we take for granted flushing toilets. I think we take for granted being able to wipe our butts with toilet paper, even when we have to buy the cheap scratchy thin kind; we get so caught up in our circumstances, we keep our focus in and when we are so focused inward there is no room for the sunlight of the spirit to shine outward.

Keep in mind that regardless if we feel blessed or punished in our circumstances, we often are not rooted in truth. Stay focused up. Practice being in relationship with God, not the things he gives you.

The feeling of safety, of all things being right in the world, when you are at peace and contentment when you feel safe and warm and loved, God wants us to feel that way about him. He wants us to put our trust in him. Not the money in the bank account. Not the relationship with the guy or girl, just him. To trust in the knowledge that the all powerful, all knowing, everlasting God loves us and desires an abundant life rich with peace and serenity and goodness! It is these truths we can meditate on.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. (1 John 4:9, 10 NLT)

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:6-9 NLT)

And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. (2 Corinthians 9:8 NLT)

Heavenly Father, thank you so much that you have created us to rule over earth. You are such a gracious God, you give us rest, you give us peace, you are our comforter and our strength and guidance. I pray that whatever we each are going through in life, that we can lift that to you Lord, please bless us today with wisdom and discernment for our circumstances. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. In Jesus name, AMEN!

As you pray, keep it real and focus up. Your circumstances will change because your heart will change. Even if your only quiet time is in the bathroom (or out in the woods)…use that time and connect with God!

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Migration

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Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Eagles are considered spiritual messengers between gods and humans by some cultures. There is an eagle that has taken roost near my home. I get to see him on my daily hike and I don’t know if I am conditioned because the eagle is the national symbol of freedom or if it is sheer size or their predatory nature, but they are fascinating creatures to me. Seeing them soar down river or upstream, I always feel a sense of God’s presence and peace. An eagle’s majestic nature stops me in my tracks and I am able to stop, stare and revel in the present moment. Whatever worries or challenges or stress of the day melt away when the eagle flies my way.

When we stop our busy lives for even just a moment, we are open to hearing from God, from gaining clarity over a situation, peace around a problem, hope for our future.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. (Matthew 6:26, 27, 34 NLT)

What causes you to stop and pause?

Feel Alone?

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener and Standby), that He may remain with you forever–John 14:16 (amp)

You are not alone. There are probably thousands that are going through a similar challenge like the one you are facing now. Perhaps it is a struggling marriage. A job loss. The death of a loved one. There is a common thread that humanity goes through in good times and in bad. Unfortunately, Satan would love nothing more than to separate us from each other by making us feel like we are the only ones going through this hard time. And even worse, that we have no one to help us. Don’t believe the lies! Our Heavenly Father gave us the Holy Spirit to guide us. Spend some time in quiet meditation today. Seek His counsel for He never fails and knows all. Use His power to strengthen your relationship with Him. You will get through this.

The REST is up to Us

Every other week or so, I get stuck in the performance trap instead of resting in God’s grace. My mind twists messages I receive from others and what I read in scripture. I cannot always believe what I think. I manipulate and justify way too easily! I would not be able to successfully read the bible and understand it without positive outside influences; friends who are also Christ-followers, in-depth studies from Pastors, time to write and process, cause left to my own interpretation I am easily confused. My natural tendency is to think that if I only try harder I will get the things I want in life. If I work more hours I will get paid more. If I scrub the floor harder it will be cleaner. Doesn’t that make sense? The point I seemingly always forget is at what cost? Is it worth the extra money if I have no time for family or fun? Is it worth the clean floor if my fingertips are bloody? Luke chapter 10 is a great area to dissect and distinguish our work from God’s…

Later the Master selected 70 and sent them ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he intended to go. He gave them this charge: “what a huge harvest! And how few the harvest hands. So on your knees; ask the God of the Harvest to send harvest hands.”- Luke 10:1-2(msg)

This tells me to first PRAY. But I don’t think we stop there. Read on:

“On your way! But be careful-this is hazardous work. You’re like lambs in a wolf pack.”-Luke 10:3

Jesus sent out the disciples to prepare the way, which tells me they had to work after they prayed. This illustrates a partnership with the supernatural. God goes before us to prepare the way much like the disciples went before Jesus to prepare the way for God’s word to be heard easily. But God had also gone before the disciples to prepare the preparation…when the 70 came back triumphant, Jesus reminded them,

“All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you-that’s the agenda for rejoicing.”-Luke 10:20

God could’ve prepared the way on his own. He didn’t need the 70 to go to the towns before Christ. But he did it so they could be witnesses to many miracles and thus strengthen their faith. This is like our work today. God doesn’t NEED us to help each other out. He allows us to serve others at home, at school, at work, at church, so we get to experience His presence.

Don’t get caught in the performance trap. When we focus on His presence, our work is always good, so there is no need to worry or overwork ourselves. Bask in the Glory of God when you work it will be so much more fruitful!

Are you feeling God’s presence today?

Awake to the Rest

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythm of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. -Matthew 11:28-30 (msg)

I grew up hearing the New International Version that states, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I misconstrued this to mean that with Jesus nothing should ever go wrong. Even as a child I had addict tendencies, the ‘all or nothing’ mentality. When something bad happened, my dad leaving us or friends talking behind my back, I would hear this scripture and think to myself, “Well, God must not be for me, he must be against me, cause this ain’t easy or light.” The extremist personality I grew up with pushed me further and further from God and His grace was neither accepted or even noticed by me.

The message version is much easier for an extremist like me to grasp. To get away with Jesus could mean a variety of options. I am someone who needs time alone to be recharged. A walk with my dog and nothing else, not even headphones, an afternoon cleaning while listening to a sermon, these things give me rest. Getting in the habit of resting in Jesus truly does allow us to recover our lives, even when we didn’t ever know we had lost them. I honestly don’t know if I ever had my full life before I found salvation in Jesus. I had thirty years of wasted potential. A lot of dreams, a lot of almosts resulting to nothing really achieved. Addiction wastes a lot of time.

No matter where we came from or what we have done, there is much hope. This passage says our job is to walk, work and watch. Walk a life with Jesus, pay attention to the blessings, work not for the sake of achieving salvation but in celebration of the salvation already granted you. Good things are already upon you, and you can accept the potential within you.

What potential does God want to wake in you?

Sea the tranquility

Before coming to Christ, I often felt alone. I imagined myself floating down the river, freaked out at where I was headed, so much so that I lived a life of chaos, clinging and grasping at the straws of addiction and sticks and logs of co-dependance, scrambling to find a way out, to no avail. Fearful that I would be whooshed all the way down to the sea where gigantic monsters would eat me alive, only to die with no point to any of the journey.

When we are disconnected from God (the worst is when we are so delusional we think we are still connected!) we tend to justify our actions and reactions to life. We act like wild animals caught in a trap, snapping and biting at those who are trying to help. We don’t understand that our reality is jacked up, our perception is completely skewed and we allow emotions to cloud truth.

When I am feeling scared, irritable, discontent or just plainly BLAH, I find that my acceptance of a person, place or thing is out of my reach. I can find no rest or serenity until I accept that person, place or thing as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at that moment.

NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING HAPPENS IN GODS WORLD BY MISTAKE.

In the book of 1 Samuel, we read of Saul, the first king of Israel and the rise of a young David.

But an evil spirit from the Lord came upon Saul as he was sitting in his house with a spear in his hand. While David was playing the harp, Saul tried to pin him to the wall with his spear, but David eluded him as Saul drove the spear into the wall. That night David made good his escape. 1 Samuel 19:9

The point I find interesting is that the evil spirit came from God. Just remember, nothing happens by mistake. What seems a life and death issue in today’s world, usually isn’t, it is just our emotions freaking us out and dramatizing every little detail. When things truly are life and death for us, as long as we stay connected to God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit, we understand that things happen for reasons outside of ourselves and it is easier to accept and thus live a life of sane and happy usefulness no matter the circumstances. We can do that when we stay close to God through prayer, rest and surrounding ourselves with the right influences.

I pray no matter YOUR circumstances, you can turn to God for strength and security. All will be revealed in time.

How many are your works, O Lord!
In wisdom you made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number-living things both large and small.
There the ships go to and fro, and the leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.
These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time. Psalm 104:24-27

Reflect Effect

If we are patient and persistent, we will learn much about ourselves and why we feel and act the way we do. -The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous, pg 65.

To be persistent means to continually recur to the mind; to be retained. A habit is formed by persistently putting into practice the hobby, task or trade you wish to perfect. In order to make a lasting effect on your physical health, you need to exercise consistently. In order to play the guitar you must put hours into practicing. In order to know yourself better you must persist in finding the source of your feelings and actions. How do you do this? Here are some things to try for self-reflection…

Make a List of Character traits. While waiting for God to reveal the next step, try waiting patiently (which means without complaint) by focussing on intentional self-reflection time. During a few moments right now, make a list of the top three character traits you feel you possess. For a complete list of traits to get you started, CLICK HERE In order to determine what will work best for your life, in your current circumstances and coupled with your character traits, you can set yourself up to use those traits as assets and not liabilities. Someone who is fiercely loyal can also hold a grudge and may be unable to forgive if decieved. If someone is tenacious it may mean they make the same mistake over and over again forgetting that tenacity is preventing them from getting out of their current problem. Tenacity can turn to insanity very quickly if your actions are not reflected on properly.

Go to the Word. We cannot figure out ourselves without turning to the word. Getting close to God automatically gets us closer to the selves we were meant to be. By turning to the word we deflect negativity and reflect God’s glory.

You are my refuge and my shield. Your word is my source of hope. -Psalm 119:114

Do Something Fun.

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again-Rejoice! -Philippians 4:4

You cannot share what you do not experience. In order to live a life a faith, and show others the way to faith, joy should be a common part of your day. Take a class learning something you always wanted to learn but never did. Jump out of a plane. Learn to dive. Turn the music up real loud and dance around your house. (I recommend trying this when no one else is due home for at least an hour!) Trying out new things or revisiting old hobbies is the most fun way to figure out self.

What will you try today?

Permission for Reception

Be still and know that I am God. Psalms 46:10

Isn’t it amazing we think we can text and drive at the same time? Or drink and drive? Or eat waffles and drive? All of the things we try to do while driving reminds me of how we can forget there is a God, or we deny there is a God or maybe we just forget that God is around on all the other days outside of Sundays. When we forget to include God in every part of our lives, we try to run the show ourselves; we try to control people, places and things even as innocently in the form of multi-tasking. Our culture has made it not okay to just be quiet and still, we have inundated ourselves with stuff and the result is we forget God.

How do we approach starting, developing or maintaining a relationship with God? Receptivity is crucial to all relationships. To be receptive means we allow ourselves to receive. To receive means permit to enter and accept as truth or authority. To allow ourselves to undergo or experience. In the instance of a spiritual experience we need to ALLOW the experience to happen. This willingness or allowance is the first step. When we can answer the knock, ring or DM from God we are able to hear more clearly and true. Without distractions. What could this look like in your life? A jog with no ipod, a drive with no phone or music, perhaps it’s a Saturday night with no plans and being okay with that. Try it; you may just hear something important.