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24 July 2012

A Time to Refocus

In the past few weeks, I have been sinking lower and lower in the doom and gloom of this current society – this seriously sliding “nation under God.” I don’t know why, but I have often felt like Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. I hate that almost everything I write sounds pessimistic or negative. I’m just not that comical, uplifting, optimist writer that most desire to read. Never fear though, I am a happy person, and I love comedy and jokes and being silly and laughter, and I have the joy of the Lord, but my heart is often heavy over the state of this world. I understand a little of God’s heartache for His creation.

Step back in time with me for just a moment.

A loving and all powerful God chooses to give origin to mankind, then because of His love for the man, He creates the man a helpmate and friend, woman. He fashions both after Himself, breathes life into them, then because He loves them so much, He instills within them a free will. Risky? Yes, but necessary. They have the ability to choose a relationship with Him or to walk away and live without Him. His heart is for them; every bit of Him desires to walk with them– but He holds all wisdom, so He understands that true love must be given freely – if He forces them to love, serve, and obey Him, they are nothing more than robots; the relationship will lack depth and passion, in an essence, heart. Because man is limited in wisdom, man chooses the immediately gratifying option and ultimately decides to walk away and live by his own accord, thus God can no longer live in perfect union with man. In fact, because He is so perfect, God must now judge the man righteously, according to His perfection. God’s Holiness and Perfectness cannot stand to be in the presence of the antithesis of Himself. Sin or unholiness is now present in mankind’s life. So – God, in His ever loving and perfect way, devises a plan for man to be reunited to Him – through a Savior. Wonderful news, yes? The problem is, the same mankind that freely walked away from God, must now recognize his need for a Savior and accept God’s gift of that Savior, God’s only Son, Jesus Christ.

Now, let’s return to today.

It must break God’s heart each time a person ignores His desire to be a part of his or her life. Don’t get me wrong; I understand the importance of free will to a relationship, but it is apparent that not everyone recognizes or is willing to recognize that he or she is sinful in nature, and has been from birth, but that there is a way to be reunited with his or her One True Love.

So – with all that being said here is what I meant to write.

I feel surrounded by bad news. From the deplorable state of our nation’s economy to the gross apathy of university professors over sexual abuse and the recent courtroom drama in Pennsylvania. From the disturbing eyewitness reports and aftermath of the massacre in Colorado to the recent disappearance of a six year old girl and the discovery of the gruesome abuse and death she experienced from her own neighbor in Iowa. From the cynicism of a President who apparently believes in socialism over excellence and aspiration in the private sector to a military who openly supports gay Pride, but not national pride and individual rights in political activity. I am appalled and almost ashamed to be called an American. Now, I know America is not God’s chosen country. I have said it before and heard it many times recently – America is not God’s priority – but thankfully His people are.

I can easily wallow in this miserable state of America, or I can turn my eyes to the Lord for direction and hope. Before I even take a step towards God, He is standing before me with open arms waiting for me to hide in the shelter of His wings.

Isaiah the prophet lived in a similar time. We aren’t the first to watch as our nation’s leaders turn away from God and turn towards idols. Yes, idols: money, power, prestige, and the number one idol today, self.

God says in Isaiah 40 – “Comfort, comfort, my people.” Then He describes that He is making a path for the glory of the Lord to be revealed to all mankind.

God goes on to explain that men are like grasshoppers to Him; and nations are just “a drop in the bucket,” “dust on the scales.” I think we forget that He is the one “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand.” According to Isaiah, He has “marked off the heavens with His hand.” He has held the dust of the earth in a basket. He has weighed the mountains on the scales. Before Him all nations are nothing; they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing. “He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth and its peoples are like grasshoppers.” “He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.” He reduces the rulers of the nations to naught. He blows on them and they wither then he sweeps them away like dry wheat. No one is His equal. He brings out the stars and “calls them each by name. Because of Him, “not one of them is missing.”

The people were saying “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God.” But God says, “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.”

Then God, through Isaiah, goes on to calm us . . . gently . . . with His loving care, just as He always intended. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” And one of the first verses I ever learned from Scripture – “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

We cannot lose hope. God hasn’t. He has always existed, and He has always had eyes for us! And God will always be and will forever have eyes for us! There is no more comforting thought than to know that I have relinquished control of my life and my will to the all-powerful God who created mankind and nations; who sustains mankind and nations; and who will determine the last day of each man, of each nation, and of this earth. Nothing is in my hands. It’s not even for me to worry about. He tells me not to fret, but to hope in Him – to bind myself to Him and He will give me strength to soar on wings like eagles, to walk this life’s journey until He says I’m done – without ever fainting.

Thank you Lord for refocusing my eyes on You and Your truth – which was before America and will be after America. No matter what happens in this crazy world, I know that You hold me and this world in Your hands. May You bless America, but even if that is not Your will – to You, Holy Father, be the Glory. I am Yours and You are mine. Amen and Amen.

the refocused writer

P.S. If you are just recognizing your need for a Savior or if you are ready to accept His gift of Jesus Christ – don’t wait – do it today. He is waiting for you. Just tell Him what’s going on – He will listen and respond lovingly to You. He loves you with an everlasting love and wants to be invited to walk with you today and every day, for the rest of your life.

09 July 2012

Breathe It

It’s only July, but I’ve begun seeing Christmas advertisements in the stores. Hallmark is advertising their keepsake ornament soon to arrive. Hobby Lobby has Christmas d├ęcor filling the shelves. So I have been thinking a little bit about Christmas, and one of my favorite parts of Christmas is the special music we get to enjoy during the season.

One of my all-time favorite Christmas songs is “Breath of Heaven.”

     “Breath of heaven, Hold me together, Be forever near me, Breath of heaven. Breath of heaven, Lighten my darkness, Pour over me your holiness, For you are holy. Breath of heaven.”
(Songwriters: Chris Eaton, Amy Grant)

There is something in the word breath that is inexplicable. Something miraculous. In Genesis 2, “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” From the very beginning, God’s breath is life giving. I imagine Him imparting His very life into the life of man with just a mere breath. The power is astounding.

I’m sure you can think of numerous examples of the miracle of a breath. When a baby is born, everyone waits in expectation for the baby to take his first breath. Miraculous. Imagine a dire situation when someone is lying unconscious and not breathing, and emergency workers are furiously performing rescue breathing. When the person finally takes a breath, everyone sighs in relief. Miraculous. If you’ve ever fallen or been hit in the stomach and gotten the breath knocked out of you, you were probably quite panicked until you were finally able to breathe again. It’s amazing. Miraculous. Breath is life.

Breath is air taken in and air blown out. Breath is warm because it’s been within a living body. If breath stops for too long, life ends. Breath is life.

Now follow me to another passage and just watch how this plays out.

2 Tim 3:17: “All Scripture is God-breathed . . . .”

I love the description of the Bible that Paul gives us in His second letter to Timothy. God-breathed.

So how does that translate?

Scripture has the very breath of God inside of it. Just as man was brought to life with the breath of God, so to God’s Holy Word – the Bible is brought to life with the breath of God. What does that mean? Experiment for yourself. Try to read one verse out of the Bible today. Often, when I attempt to read just one verse, I find myself reading several verses, a paragraph, or even a chapter. God engages me through His Word. The breath-of-God endowed Word of God nourishes my soul – it feeds my spirit – it enriches my life. But most of all, the Word of God connects me to my Father. It’s His breath – His life – His Word I’m absorbing. And you better believe, He is alive. He meets me there. The Holy Word of God is alive.

Furthermore, the writer of Hebrews gives us more information about that living, breath of God.

Hebrews 4:12- “The word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

God’s breath is not just alive; not just in existence – it is active! There is vitality to the Word of God. The living word of God penetrates the minutia of our existence. Can you imagine something so sharp that it can separate our soul and spirit? Who understands where those two differ anyway? Only the God that created them can separate them. The Word of God is sharp; it pierces our facades, our masks, our walls. God knows me, and when I read His word, His very life, His very breath, penetrates my real self. It touches my innermost feelings, my thoughts – dividing my soul and spirit.

If you want to know God and be known by Him– read His breath. Life is in the breath.

I’ll go a step further – so stop now if you don’t want to be pricked.

Why is it so easy to pick up a book of fiction or log onto Facebook – but not find five minutes to read the Bible? Shocker – most of us don’t want to know what God thinks of us. We are scared. Another shocker– we would rather escape into someone else’s reality – whether that be made up or only the good highlights of what someone wants to present as their life – than know what God wants to breathe into us that day.

It should not be. He created and formed you; He breathed His life into you; and He loves you. Let Him breathe into you today.

Enjoy life. Live life. Experience life. Life exists because of breath – and we have the very breath of God.

Breathe it. Read it.

the breathing writer