Friday, November 22, 2013

Hidden in the Stuffing

We had a Thanksgiving luncheon yesterday for our Legacy Ministry at church. It was a joint venture. We provided the turkey and dressing and everyone else brought something to go with it. As usual, my plate was far too inadequate for the spread.

By tradition, I try a little bit of everything. So my portions end up one big pile of food.
When you eat from a pile, individual entrees lose their identity. Flavors mesh with very little distinction as to what you just forked into your mouth.

But somehow in that experience a unique flavor jumped out. It gave the wow moment. It was unique, unexpected and delightful. And I have no idea what it was and from what portion it came. All I knew was I wanted more.
Finding something you cannot define or explain makes seconds quite difficult. Grazing is forbidden at our potlucks. Nobody wants to see me going from bowl to bowl with my fork trying to find that magical dish of flavor.

But knowing it’s there, somewhere, on the table can drive you crazy. I wanted more but didn’t know how to get it.
Moments with the Lord come along like that. We’re feasting away at life when all of a sudden a flavor hits our senses. It so captivates the moment that all we can think about is how we desperately want more.

David said, “O taste and see that the LORD is good…” PS 34:8

Captured and captivated by God is more uncommon than it should be. But with an omnipresent God it shouldn’t be. He is present in all of the moments of our lives. Right now, regardless of what’s going on, He is present. Should that surprise us? Throughout the day, wherever we go, He will be present. Should that surprise us? In the evening when we close out this day and wake up to the morning, He is already there. Should that surprise us?

While we’re gulping down life, just know that there, hidden in that portion on our fork, God has placed a tasty morsel of His goodness. It is the spice of His presence in our lives. Savor it, delight in it, crave more.

It makes us realize we are hungry for something we didn't know was available.

JER 15:16 Your words were found and I ate them, and Your words became for me a joy and the
delight of my heart; for I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

From a Larry Gatlin Fan

Larry Gatlin is a remarkable man. I saw him at a men’s power luncheon yesterday. The years have left their mark but the life lived shows evidence of God’s hand on his life.

He told stories of people and places, opportunities and failures, open and closed doors—all of which he believes, now, God directed. It was obvious during the experiences he missed seeing God but afterwards, when he was in his right mind, he saw how God had guided him.

The darkest days resulted from a cocaine habit that gripped him for nearly five years. In his final crash, when he came to himself, he cried out to God. He had known the Lord all along but now he needed Him. God got him into rehab and restored his life.
As he looks back, he is grateful for the people, places, opportunities, failures, open and closed doors, because he now sees how God was faithful to him in spite of his own lack of faithfulness.

And I said, “Amen.”
God’s faithfulness never changes. He continues to work out the details of our lives that help Him accomplish what concerns us.

Through a man who has now been on both sides of the spectrum, I am renewed. I will cling to the faithfulness of God in the land of the living. I will live expectantly, depending upon His grace and His mercy. I will deny the darkness’ attempt to define my life. I will announce the goodness of God in this day.
Thanks Larry Gatlin. You have encouraged me greatly!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Are you successful or not?

How do you measure success? I watched a football game last night in which the quarterback had a highly successful night but the team lost. Success or not? I’ve watched other games where the quarterback stunk and the team still won. Success or not?

It all depends upon the criteria. Take the quarterback by himself and evaluate his performance, he did his job and did it well. He was successful. But if you add to that criteria something for which he cannot be solely responsible, even in his success he can be declared a failure.
It doesn’t seem fair to be evaluated by something we ultimately have no control over. We do our job and do it well, but someone thinks we should have done more or done things differently so they rate us lower than our performance suggests.

Satan is the accuser of the brethren. He watches our lives and ignores the ninety-eight percent good going on and points out the two percent that we struggle with. He magnifies that two percent until it overshadows the ninety-eight. In fact, he makes such a big deal out of it we forget the ninety-eight even existed.
He can make the two percent seem so important that we feel like we have failed totally.

Years ago I wrote a little poem that reminds me not to look at what Satan points out.

            I’ve never been very good at the things of life.
            I’m not always best and I don’t always win.

            But I’m loved by the one who knows the real me,
            Who blesses who I am, not who I’ve been.

God doesn’t live in my past. He’s in my present. He is interested in now, not then.
Satan lives in yesterday. His accusations are always in what I did or didn’t do. He frustrates today by reminding me of other days.

The criteria God uses is: what am I doing now. I may have blown it five seconds ago, but now, does He have my heart and my focus? If so, I’m renewed and restored. Even though I failed I’m not a failure. Because success is determined by this moment and in this moment I choose to go with God’s opinion.