Monday, August 25, 2014

His mercies...

Week 35:

Lamentations 3:22-23 22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

A phrase was on my heart all day the other day:  “His mercies are new every day.”   Below is where I need His mercies today…

Lord, grant me mercy today as I venture forth in your kingdom.

Lord, grant me mercy as I face temptation today.

Lord, grant me mercy as I am a sinful creature.

Lord, grant me mercy in my hidden sin.

Lord, grant me mercy in my unconscious sin.

Lord, grant me mercy in my willful sin.

Lord, grant me mercy in my lack of faith.

Lord, grant me mercy in my unbelief.

Lord, grant me mercy in shortcomings of life.

Lord, grant me mercy as I lead today.

Lord, grant me mercy as I serve today.

Lord, grant me mercy in the unknown.

Lord, grant me mercy in my prayers.

Lord, grant me mercy in my insecurity.

Lord, grant me mercy in my excess.

Lord, grant me mercy in my salvation.

Lord, grant me mercy in my goodness.

Lord, grant me mercy in my decisions.

Lord, your mercies are never ending.  Thank you for those each day.  Let me never forget that those mercies shower down daily like rain watering my heart and soul.


1.      Where do you need His mercies today?
2.      Are there positive places where you need His mercies?  What are they?
3.      Describe a time where you have really felt God’s mercy?
4.      If you have not felt His mercy, then what do you think is getting in the way?
5.      This week, spend some time in silence and meditation around God’s mercy in your life.  Pay attention to the message He has for you.  Share that with someone.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

The emotional response...

Week 34:

Matthew 15:17-20 17 “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18 But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

I recently attended a workshop session of our annual teacher’s conference for Christian Schools.  This was a fascinating session about emotional intelligence.  I have been on a transformational journey of strengthening my heart and soul over the past few years and God continues to put learning situations in my path along the way.  This presenter consults and trains groups and organizations and his presentation jarred some thoughts for me. (In fact, it was an emotional response)

The more I am on this journey, the more I see that what scientists, psychologists, neuroscientists, etc. “discover” and explain; God may be explaining through Jesus and His teachings.  What?  Jesus spoke of neuro-pathways, etc.?  No.  The use of analytical explanation is actually Western in thought.  But Jesus did however, use stories, parables, analogies, and the like to say the same thing.  These to me are like pieces to a puzzle coming together.

In this session, what particularly stood out for me was the discussion of the emotional center of the brain.  In a nutshell, the emotional part of the brain works 100 times faster than the thinking and reasoning part of the brain.  When that part has been triggered, the “acting without thinking” response usually takes over.  The presenter was able to briefly give some techniques that are helpful when those situations come up in the classroom.  These techniques are also helpful in everyday life and are somewhat touched on by Jesus. 

The emotional responses we have to situations are the “out of the heart” responses.  A portion of the presenter’s techniques were proactive in nature.  If I train myself to be somewhat prepared for the triggers of my response, then I can get back to the thinking part of the brain and avoid some damaging, out of balance emotions.  One of the techniques is to replace the negative emotional responses with positive emotions responses prior to entering situations.  I am to condition myself for the oncoming stresses.  That is one of the things Jesus is talking about when He lists what comes out of the heart in vs. 19.  Paul, in Galatians 5:22-23 lists fruits of the Spirit that can be used to condition the heart.  Paul also mentions in Philippians 4:8 some traits we should think about. 

If and when I focus on these traits and other holy things, I condition my heart for a better response in stressful situations.  This does not mean I will be perfect.  I still have remnant of evil and sin in my heart that I will be working on, through the Spirit, until I die.  This also does not mean that I deny my emotion all together.  My response may be valid, but should not be out of balance with the situation. 

All in all, I love how the Word of God continues to apply to all life situations.  I am thankful for those experts who strive and study and research humanity in order to make us better.  And I am thankful that the two worlds meet periodically for me to see how God is speaking to me.


1.      Describe a time when you had an emotional response that was out of balance.
2.      As you reflect back on that time, how do you feel about it now?
3.      What could you have done different?
4.      Would filling your heart with the positive attributes listed in the Word have helped?
5.      As you reflect, you may feel some shame.  Give yourself grace and know that your heart is still being fed.  Move forward from here and fill your heart with God’s character.

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Action without inquiry...

Week 33:

Exodus 2:11-14 11 One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”14 The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”
The more I read the story of Moses, the more I become aware of his humanness.  As a young Christian, I saw all of the spiritual men of the Bible as having this beyond human quality that I will never possess.  As I begin to put myself in Moses’ (and others’) shoes, I begin to see that each man missed the mark at times and yet God used them anyway.  In fact, God would lift these men up as favorable.

In this passage, what stood out to me was how Moses took it upon himself to act.  Moses already had seen how unjust his people were being treated.  Without inquiring of God, Moses created his own justice.  As we know from the end of the story, God does in fact take care of His people…in a mighty way.  However, early on, Moses acts on his own accord.  Now Moses had the right intent in mind.  He was just going ahead of God.  This set in motion for Moses forty years of preparation for leading Israel out of bondage.  Based on what is written, we do not know if God was going to use forty years to prepare Moses or not.  What we do know is that Moses had to flee because of his act. We also know that God’s plan prevailed.  I think however, that if Moses would have inquired of God before his act, God may have revealed the larger plan and Moses life before the Exodus would have been different.

 So, what do I learn from this?  First of all, before I act on something that seems right, I should inquire of God.  I wonder how many things are in the works that God is prepping me for that I will discover would be a little different if I had not acted on my own.  I wonder where I had the right intention surrounding my hasty action yet God’s plan will unfold and show me that I was on the right track.  I wonder where I have acted out of impatience waiting on God to act.  Essentially saying, “I know better than God.”  (I am also mindful of King Saul when he acted on his own and the results that followed. I Samuel 13)

The second thing I need to learn is that God’s plan will prevail no matter if I act foolishly on  my own or not.  I’m not saying that I should just act without inquiry.  What I am saying is that God will carry out His purpose with or without me.  And, He may still use me in that purpose, even if I was hasty.  God knows my heart for Him.  I think this also separated Moses from King Saul.  Moses had the intention of God’s people at heart.  Saul had his own motivations at heart.  I would say that many of my acts have the Kingdom in mind.  I am thankful for God’s grace up to this point when my intentions were not Kingdom in nature.

I am thankful for the stories of Moses and others.  They let me know that God can use me, a common and flawed man, for His purposes. 


1.      Describe a time where you were hasty and acted without inquiry of the Lord.
2.      What were the results?
3.      What unfolded that you know now was God’s plan around this situation?
4.      What did you learn?
5.      What steps can you take to create a world where you inquire of God before you act in the future?

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Monday, August 4, 2014


Week 32:

Matthew 23:25-26 25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

I live on the edge of town and my property is a couple of acres in size.  There are some houses nearby, but for the most part, my property borders open fields.  Needless to say, I deal with weeds on a regular basis.  Added to this, our region has been in a severe drought for several years.  This is a great formula for weeds.  When I lived in town, and had access to water, I had a green, plush lawn.  However, I still had to work at fighting weeds.  One thing I have learned from all of this…I will always be dealing with weeds.  There are several who live in town that have decided to concrete or gravel their yards.  Weeds still show up in the cracks and through the gravel.

As I was pulling weeds (once again) the other day, I was reminded that I will always have to deal with weeds.  Where I live now; if I do not do weed maintenance on a regular basis, then my yard will be overrun by them.  In fact, there have been times where I did not take time to maintain the weeds in a timely fashion and they took over my yard.  Some grew up to 6 feet tall.  And they would grow thick like the under-brush of a forest.  Furthermore, while cleaning these weeds out, it is not uncommon to encounter a rattlesnake or two.  Little to no grass grows in these areas.  The weeds give nothing back to the soil and use the shallow water before it can get deep in the soil to help other plants and trees.  Bottom line, weeds require regular maintenance.

Another area that requires continual maintenance is my heart.  Jesus warned the teachers of the law and Pharisees about cleaning the inside of their dish (the heart).  Dishes are like weeds in that they require maintenance as well.  Just cleaning the outside doesn’t take care of the bacteria growing on the inside.  Cleaning the outside makes the dish look clean but does not make it clean.  To do that would be deceptive.  My heart is the inside while my appearance and persona(s) represent my outside.  I do a lot of maintenance on my outside.  I act certain ways for certain situations.  I know the right phraseology for most occasions.  I can play “Church” with the best of them. 

My weed problem served as a reminder of the continual need for maintenance on my heart.  In fact, when I looked at those weeds (around my house) that I let get out of control…once again…the first verse that came to mind was the above passage.  I have mentioned in several settings that I tend to live my life for a destination and this constant drive to arrive.  However, life is a journey.  My heart requires continual maintenance.  This maintenance ranges from scripture knowledge to emotional health.  This would include messages about God, fellowship with saints, prayer time, fasting, challenges to my soul, etc.  When I coast through life and do not maintain my heart, the weeds begin to grow.  Then the work I have to do on my heart is a bigger task than it would have been if I would have just done regular maintenance. 

The weeds are not always sin.  The same goes for the dirtiness of the inside of the dish.  It is not always full of bacteria.  However, if left unchecked, in can manifest itself in sinful or at least unhealthy ways.  When I deny my heart; when I repress my feelings; when I hide shame; those things I have denied, hidden, and/or repressed do not always resurface that way I left them.  Like weeds, they grow and become a bigger problem.  Eventually these weeds can be harmful and require a lot more work than I want to put in.

So, I must challenge myself to stop procrastinating and incorporate a regular heart maintenance program into my life.  Otherwise, the weeds will require a lot of work.

1.      What are some of the weeds you have let grow too large?
2.      What have you done in the past to maintain your weeds?
3.      If you have not done any weed maintenance in your life; what has kept you from doing so?
4.      What stood out for you in reading this today?
5.      This week, ask God to show you where your heart needs some maintenance work.  Follow where that goes and ask God to help you along the way.

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