Thursday, April 30, 2015

The promise to the righteous...

Week 17:

This week, spend time in meditation over this passage.  Follow the instructions below the passage as your guide.  Do this each day for the next several days and see how this passage applies to your heart, your soul, and your current life circumstances.

Psalm 37:1-19

Do not fret because of those who are evil
    or be envious of those who do wrong;
for like the grass they will soon wither,
    like green plants they will soon die away.
Trust in the Lord and do good;
    dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
Take delight in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.
Be still before the Lord
    and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
    when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
    do not fret—it leads only to evil.
For those who are evil will be destroyed,
    but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.
10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
    though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
    and enjoy peace and prosperity.
12 The wicked plot against the righteous
    and gnash their teeth at them;
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
    for he knows their day is coming.
14 The wicked draw the sword
    and bend the bow
to bring down the poor and needy,
    to slay those whose ways are upright.
15 But their swords will pierce their own hearts,
    and their bows will be broken.
16 Better the little that the righteous have
    than the wealth of many wicked;
17 for the power of the wicked will be broken,
    but the Lord upholds the righteous.
18 The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care,
    and their inheritance will endure forever.
19 In times of disaster they will not wither;

    in days of famine they will enjoy plenty.

You will be reading this passage three times following the guidelines below:

1.  First reading.  Read the passage through, one time, slowly.  Pause between each clause.  After you finish this first reading, be silent for a minute or two.

2.  Second reading.  Read the text slowly once again, pausing between phrases.  But this time pause even longer and be aware if any of the words or phrases that catch your attention, or seem to stand out in some way.  Make a mental note of those.  After you finish the second reading, write down those special words or phrases.

3.  Third reading.  Reread the passage up to the word or phrase that touched you in some way.  When you reach that word or phrase, stop and repeat it a few times.

4.  Pondering.  Reflect for a while on the phrase that moved you.  Repeat it a few more times.  Let the words interact with your thoughts, your memories or any other Bible passages that come to mind.  Let it touch your heart, desires and fears.  Begin to wonder, “What might God want to say to me specifically”?

5.  Prayer.  Turn that last question into a prayer, asking God, “What is the word you have for me in this passage, God?  Is there anything you want to say to me today?”  Listen.  Write down anything you sense God might be saying to you.

6.  Rest.  Be still and silent for a while.  Enjoy being in the presence of God.  In this step you move from doing to being.  Simply be for a while.

7.  Response.  Ask yourself and God, “What am I being called to do as a result of the word I have been given?”  Perhaps you are feeling challenged to love God more, or to accept some aspect of who you are, or to serve someone you know or to begin changing some aspect of your character.  Whatever it is, write it out.  “Today God is calling me to be a more ______ person.  Be with me God and teach me how.”   Thank God for the word and the calling you have been given.

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Click HERE to purchase Weekly Devotional Thoughts: Weekly Applications of God’s Word on Amazon Kindle and write a review.
Don't forget to visit my Amazon links.  General purchases:  Click on the Banner at the top of the blog.  For a list of my favorites go to:

Monday, April 27, 2015

Setting boundaries against lies...

Week 16: 

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

I have a friend who says often, “Satan’s biggest tool is the lie.”  When we look at the fall of mankind, it began with a lie.  Those of us walking with the Lord will battle the great tool of the evil one…the lie.  Satan knows the redeemed are saved.  Therefore, I believe that he will use any deception to make us believe otherwise and in turn; we become discouraged. 

Many use the above verse in a context of Christian vs. non-Christian.  I agree that this is a powerful verse to remind us that we who are in Christ have access to divine power against those who wage war against Christianity. 

I also see another valuable place where this verse reveals help for me.  I have access to divine power to fight against the condemning messages that I personally carry within myself. 

All of us have at one time or another (or many times) have heard a negative message about ourselves that really landed.  We believed what we heard.  It may have begun with a simple correction or criticism.  It may have been a truth we needed to hear but was not delivered in a healthy way.  In some ways, we may carry these messages in order to motivate ourselves to do and be good.  Whatever the case may be, we all carry negative messages about ourselves.

These negative messages about who we are inside…are lies!  The initial criticism may have been rooted in truth and we corrected our path, but the continual message we carry from that initial correction is false.  And we cannot eliminate these without divine power.  Accessing this divine power is easier than one may think.  Those of us who claim to be redeemed, who are saved, have the Holy Spirit living within us.  And The Spirit has power.  Yet, it does not always manifest itself in some “Hollywood” fashion.

I believe there are, what I call Spiritual revelations of divine power at my access.  Let me give an example:  My child disobeys me in such a way that I feel disrespected.  My reaction to his disrespect is “over the top”.  I begin to raise my voice and verbally beat down my child.  This unhealthy reaction is my first revelation:  I am exposed.  Something else besides my child’s disrespect is going on in my heart.  Some semblance of this message is going on in my heart, “I am not worthy of respect”.  My unhealthy response is a reaction to a lie I believe about myself.  This exposure is the Spirit telling me that something in me needs divine power. 

The second revelation is buried deep within my heart.  God made me; I am good at my core.  This was written in my DNA and awakened of sorts when I accepted Jesus.  This is part of the reason I am fighting against disrespect.  I don’t believe the negative message at my core.  I may be flawed.  I may make poor choices and sin.  But, I am wonderfully made by the creator of all.  Yet, at some level I believe the message/lie and live life accordingly.  I must believe the truth about my existence and how I am made in the image of God.

This leads to the third revelation.  This one requires action on my part.  It is time for me to set a boundary against the lie.  I do this by taking “captive every thought and making it obedient to Christ.”  This action I take is based in what I know about God, Jesus, and the grace that flows from the heart of God.  The action is becoming intentional about believing in the truth about me at my core.  God created me good.  The lies I choose to believe and the choices I make based on the lies do not change the fact that God loves me, always.  The boundary I set comes from my belief that His love and grace is available to me at all times.  The truth message must over-power the lie message. 

As I go through this process of walking through the Spiritual revelations, the lies begin to fade.  However, until Jesus returns, I will have to walk through this cycle continuously.  I live in a fallen world.  And, I tend to add to the problem by believe the lies.  But, I battle daily to believe God’s truth.


1.      What are some of the lies you believe about you?
2.      Where did these originate?  From what truth have they been twisted?
3.      What are your thoughts around the revelation of exposure?
4.      What are your thoughts around the fact that God made you good at your core?
5.      If this is difficult for you to believe, then what is the reason behind it?
6.      This week, bring before Jesus the lie you believe about you.  Imagine He is in the room with you.  Ask for His opinion about the lie.  Then, ask Him to tell you the truth about you.  Soak that in.
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Friday, April 24, 2015

Have I really changed at all...?

Week 15:
This is an article I wrote for The Crucible Project Blog back in December 2014.  I still have to walk through this on a regular basis.

Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

About eight years ago, I began a journey to make changes and transform my life. My Christian walk had become dry and lifeless. I began searching and praying for change. I began taking part in life-changing events including my initial weekend with The Crucible Project. My transformation curve seemed to make an upward turn.
However, there were times that I slipped back into my old ways and patterns of doing life. When that happened, I felt worse than before. And during those times, I began to question if I had made any change at all. Over the course of time I have seen some indicators of change. The answer to whether or not I have changed is… “Yes.”
I lead a group of men who have also attended a Crucible Weekend. After a year or so of leading this group, I began to notice a common feeling among some of us.
The conversation would go something like this: “I did my weekend and I am faithful to group, yet I sometimes feel that I have made no progress at all.”
For me — as the group leader — I could see quite a bit of change and difference in the man who was wondering. I quickly pointed out to him that I could see quite a bit of change. The group concurred and supported him. He could not see it, but others around him could.
That was the first indicator that I am not the man I once was. By watching someone else and his transformation process, I realized that I am changing too. It is hard for me to see it looking in the mirror.
I’m also a high school principal and we’ve been making some changes at our school. As we navigated those changes, one of the books I read was Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change by William Bridges. . Personally, the book has given me a new glimpse in the momentum I have established in the transformation process I started eight years ago. If you’re wondering the same things I have been, then Bridges’ insights might be useful for you. Bridges breaks transitions into three phases (see diagram below):
  • There is the Ending, Losing, and Letting go phase.
  • There is a Neutral Zone.
  • Finally, there is a New Beginning.

Here’s how his phases have applied to my personal transition:
  • When I started my transformation journey, I began the Ending, Losing, and Letting go phase. I took part in several activities and processes to “end” how I was previously doing life (One of those activities was my initial weekend with The Crucible Project).
  • “Ending” how I was doing life placed me in the neutral zone. In the neutral zone, I do not see the new beginning clearly. However, in the neutral zone, I can take risks and try new ways of living. This area is scary, ambiguous, and sometimes disorienting. There is a lot of unknown in the neutral zone. It is easy at times to want to go back to the old way of doing things. I am still letting go of some old ways and patterns. However, I am freed from the old life to walk new. I’ll fail at times. But the moving forward toward the new beginning has given me new life.
  • The new beginning will create other areas where transformation will need to occur. I know that God can change me in an instant. But I also know that is not how He works to build me into who I supposed to be. I have to let go of the old, wrestle with where I am, and look to the new. This will be ongoing. That is why life is called a journey…not a destination.
So, when I wonder if I’ve really changed after all this work, here are three things I do:
  • I see the change in others and realize that I have changed as well.
  • I look at the old me and reflect on where I was versus on where I am now.
  • I recognize that I am on a journey … and not just reaching a destination.
I may not see my transformation progress like I see it in others. But, when I begin the process of reflection and awareness, I begin to see and believe that change is happening.

Photo Credit: Robert Anthony Provost

1.      Describe a period of transformation in your life?
2.      What was it like to experience this life change?
3.      Have you struggled to see your own transformation? 
4.      How do these phases of transition apply to you?
5.      This week, reflect off of someone close to you and have them point out where you are as opposed to where you have been.  See what comes up for you and then ask God what step you should take next.

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Beyond my help...

Week 14:

I Corinthians 3:6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.

I struggle with being a “fixer”.  There, I said it.  From a place in my heart of compassion and a want to help, I tend to try and fix situations and relationships around me.  The core of my intention is good.  However, the “fixing” has an intention of serving me.  I feel better when things are fixed.  I gain affirmation when things get fixed.  I feel worth when things get fixed. 

What is the reality?  I cannot fix everything.  It is interesting to me that God would lead me into a profession where it is impossible for me to fix.  In the education world I am in, I deal with multiple personalities on a daily basis.  God placed me here for a reason.  I used to think it was to “fix”.  That may happen on occasion, but that is not my purpose.  As a young teacher, I led a group of parents in a short devotional thought around the above passage.  In our Christian school setting, we do not always see the fruit of our labor and influence.  We are to plant and water.  God gives growth.  And I may never see the growth.  That is hard on a fixer.

Letting go of “fixing” takes time, effort, patience, and intentionality.  And, fixing is dangerous.

·         When I fix, I can become a poser in order to please.
·         When I fix, I sometimes am only fixing my own discomfort.  This can have me steer a person into a worse position.
·         When I fix, I can become a “hero” only to let that person down at a later time.
·         When I fix, I may stifle growth that God wants to happen.
·         When I fix, I can become exhausted and eventually resentful being needed.
·         When I fix, I may create a co-dependency with others.  It may create a vicious cycle of; I need to fix and they need fixing.

How do I let go of this drug-like need to “fix”? 

·         I need to be secure with knowing God makes growth.  I plant and I water.  That is all I am called to do. 
·         Prayer.  My prayers need to be directed toward letting go and having faith that God will do His work.  My prayers also need to be directed toward the person I have planted in or watered.
·         Admit in the situation that I tend toward wanting to “fix”.  Speaking this truth keeps me from being controlled by it. 

I recently tweeted on Twitter a quote that I need to commit to living:  “For those beyond my ability and power to help, I must ask God to intervene.”  It is difficult at times, yet freeing to let go of the “fixing” part of me.  The freedom comes through the faith that God knows what He is doing and he makes things grow.


1.      In what ways are you a “fixer”?
2.      How has “fixing” served you?  Is this the first time that you may have realized that some of your “fixing” is self-serving?
3.      What are some other possible dangers in “fixing”?
4.      What do you need to let go of in order to move back to planning and watering?
5.      This week allow God to show you where you are planting or watering.  Ask Him to show you some of the fruits of your labor.
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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sadly, I am behind...

Week 13:

For the first time, I have fallen way behind in my devotional thoughts.  For week 13, I would like to send you to The Crucible Project website blog page and share an article from my friend and mentor Judson Poling.

Read Heart-Attacking” here.

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