Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Morning Coffee - Refocusing!

"Don’t weigh yourself down with responsibilities that are not your own. Instead, make your relationship with Me your primary concern.  Rather than trying to fix everything that comes to your attention, ask me to show you what is truly important."

Sarah Young
Jesus Calling

Why do I think I need to restore order and rightness to every out-of-kilter situation I encounter?  Why do I stew and fret about things I can’t control.  Planning can certainly be a good and responsible thing to do – but not if it gets in the way of my relationship with God.  My prayer for today is that I let go of those situations that are crowding my thoughts and sapping my energy and fully trust that God has everything under His control.

Time for that second cup of coffee while I refocus my thoughts for this day.


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Christmas Music

My new favorite Christmas Song.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day
Casting Crowns
Peace on Earth

Friday, November 25, 2011

Morning Coffee - Preparing for Advent

The Miraculous Journey
Anticipating God in the Christmas Season
Marty A. Bullis

Selected from the Introduction:
Christmas is coming … a season of arrivals!  Friends will come to our homes; grown children will return to their parents to celebrate and feast.  Physical objects will get caught up with us in the movement – trees tied in place, stockings will be hung, and presents start appearing.

Christ entered the world in motion: traveling to visit Elizabeth while in Mary’s womb, journeying to Bethlehem to be born, visiting Jerusalem with His parents weeks after His stable birth, and fleeing to Egypt to avoid King Herod’s wrath.  Yet this child, this Word-made-flesh, brought stability into a tumultuous world.

As we gear up for motion this holiday season, as we prepare for all the arrivals, stability awaits us in the life of Christstability in motion.

Searching for and counting on the stability of Christ in my life seems to be my personal theme right now.  During these past 3 months since Jim’s passing I have been shown just how rock-solid His presence is and just how constant His help.  I think this will be a good study for me this Advent Season.

I think I’ll pour another cup of coffee and make a count of His infinite blessings in my life.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

I Give You Joy!

"Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity.  That is why I have instructed you to give thanks for everything.  There is an element of mystery in this transaction: You give Me thanks (regardless of your feelings), and I give you Joy (regardless of your circumstances)."
~ Sarah Young
Jesus Calling


Monday, November 21, 2011

Morning Coffee - Unstable Sand

In his Eulogy of Brother Lawrence, Abbe’ of Beaufort wrote:  “[Brother Lawrence] decided to seek entrance into a monastic community in order to embrace a type of life whose rules, founded on the firm rock of Jesus Christ and not on the unstable sand of passing feelings, might strengthen him against the instability of his conduct.”

“…and not on the unstable sand of passing feelings…”

Doesn’t it seem that feelings are the foundation of our modern culture? 

How do you feel? 

How did that make you feel? 

What are you feeling now? 

Does it feel good? 

Isn’t there an entire self-help industry built on the study and glorification of feelings?  Aren’t our children taught to honor their feelings over self-discipline and principles?  Isn’t it all about how we feel? 

Time to refill my cup and begin my day – not focused on the unstable sand of feelings but on the firm rock of Jesus Christ, so that I might be strengthened against the instability of  [my] conduct.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Morning Coffee - Dry Crumbs

I received a clear message yesterday while reading my devotionals.  One theme emanated from both Sarah Young and Brother Lawrence: “Quit your self-centered focusing on others”!   Neither said it quite this way - but this was their shared message.
Sarah Young (Jesus Calling) wrote:

“When you are around other people, you tend to cater to their expectations – real or imagined.  You feel enslaved to pleasing them, and your awareness of My Presence grows dim.  Your efforts to win their approval eventually exhaust you.  You offer these people dry crumbs rather than the living water of My Spirit flowing through you.”

Brother Lawrence (The Practice of the Presence of God) put it this way:

“The most excellent method …of going to God is that of doing our common business without any view of pleasing men, and (as far as we are able) purely for the love of God.
Now I don’t mean to present myself as one who is always putting other people first as in the self-less way of a Mother Teresa. The truth is way far from that.  But I do have a healthy self-centered perspective of thinking too hard and long about how other people might react to what I do and say.  It colors most everything I do and is definitely not what God wants.   As Sarah Young writes, it is exhausting and effectively dries up the flow of Living Water.

I feel a need to pour a second cup of coffee and pray for a day of pleasing God; not pleasing myself.  Only then will His Living Spirit flow through me.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Practice of Presence

 I’ve begun reading a new book; one that Brenda at It's a Beautiful Life  mentioned recently.

The title alone – The Practice of the Presence of God (by Brother Lawrence) - is what brought me to the purchase, but I’m not completely finished with the introduction and I already KNOW this will be a book I will love and go back to again and again.
From the introduction by Hal M. Helms:
“In his early days in the Religious Life,, he often spent his entire prayer time rejecting stray thoughts and falling back into them again.  In fact, he confessed, he had never been able to pray by a rule like the others, and that after the required time of meditation he would not have been able to say what it was about.”

“His solution to this difficulty was a simple one: he developed the habit of continual conversation with God.  Whether at prayer or at work, it became his practice to focus his heart and mind on God, thanking Him, praising Him, and asking for His grace to do whatever had to be done.” 

As I said, I believe this will a book, I return to again and again.

More about Brother Lawrence:
From  “A former soldier, French mystic Nicholas Herman, aka BROTHER LAWRENCE (1611?-1691), was converted to a powerful love of God at age 18 by a humble observation of nature, and his [collected] thoughts … remain among the most pure and most powerful adorations of the divine. A lay Carmelite brother, Lawrence spent most of his time in the monastery's kitchens, and his simple, earthy observations on the direct paths to communication with God continue to inspire those seeking a stronger, more potent spirituality today.”


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Morning Coffee - His Light Touch

"The Centipede's Dilemma"

A centipede was happy - quite!
Until a toad in fun
Said, "Pray, which leg moves after which?"
This raised her doubts to such a pitch,
She fell exhausted in the ditch
Not knowing how to run.
"Approach problems with a light touch.  When your mind moves toward a problem area, you tend to focus on that situation so intensely that you lose sight of Me.  You pit yourself against the difficulty as if you had to conquer it immediately.  Your mind gears up for battle, and our body becomes tense and anxious."

"There is a better way."

"Approach problems with a light touch by viewing them in my revealing Light."

Sarah Young
Jesus Calling

When I was taking golf lessons, my instructor warned against the paralysis of analysis:  focusing so intently on doing everything correctly to the extent that I could no longer effectively swing the club. 

As Sarah Young points out this is often how we also approach our problems.  We allow the problem to grab our entire attention.  We plan, devise, strategize and organize, so much so, that we fail to accept – or even recognize - the help that God is offering.  

Instead, we should relax, and approach our problems with the calm assurance that He is with us; our partner and our help in all situations.  It is then that we will be able to most effectively face our challenges.

I believe I will pour another cup of coffee and prepare to accept my day in the sanctuary of His revealing Light.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Morning Coffee - Deuteronomy 33:25

The bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze, and your strength will equal your days.  
 Deuteronomy 33:25

Perspective is an interesting thing; it colors everything we do.  And, more often than not, I let my perspective change me rather than me change my perspective.  This makes for a very unpredictable approach to life.  I find myself constantly working at rearranging my view to meet my needs as my day progresses.

Wouldn’t it be easier (and smarter) to begin each day with the proper perspective?  And then let come what may; knowing I’ll be ready.

“Your tendency upon awakening is to assess the difficulties ahead of you, measuring them against your average strength. This is an exercise in unreality.  I know what each of your days will contain, and I empower you accordingly.”
Sarah Young
Jesus Calling 

So, why not measure my difficulties against the strength of God.  After all that is the strength that is readily available to me.  And there will always be enough to face the difficulties of each day – no matter what.  That is His promise!

Time for a second cup and a prayer of thanks for His steadfast presence and immeasurable strength. 


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Morning Coffee - "I remain the same..."

“Although you and your circumstances may change dramatically, I remain the same throughout time and eternity.”
 Sarah Young
Jesus Calling

When I think about this promise of His, I picture God as a straight bold line across the page of my life.  And I am the jagged line that crisscrosses Him - up and down - rarely staying completely in tandem; always coming back to Him - but never staying for very long before I’m off following my own path again. 

I also think about the well-known poem, Footprints in the Sand, and think that maybe that isn’t the way life with God is supposed to be – walking beside Him and only being carried in times of crises.  Is that really what God desires?  Or does He want us trustingly in His arms in all circumstances.

“Although you and your circumstances may change dramatically, I remain the same throughout time and eternity.”

Food for thought with my morning coffee.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Morning Coffee - A Spiritual Spreadsheet

Your sense of security must not rest in your possessions or in things going your way.

“Your sense of security must not rest in your possessions or in things going your way.  This entails being satisfied with much or with little, accepting either as My will for the moment.”

Sarah Young
Jesus Calling

I can give lip service to this thought as easily as anyone.  But actually living it is difficult for me and takes persistent work; especially right now.  Part of my grieving process since Jim’s passing is the constant examination and re-examination of my financial situation to assure myself that I will be OK. 

I’ve installed Quicken on my computer to better track my cash flow.  I have easy daily, up to the minute, access to my investments – seeing, at any given moment, exactly how they are doing.  Now, granted, some of this is the natural Bookkeeper in me. (It’s what I do and I do it well.)  But there is also a strong underlying concern for my financial well-being and wanting to make sure “all is well.” 

Yet God’s message to me is that this should be the least of my concerns – or as Sarah Young explains:  Your sense of security must not rest in your possessions or things going you way.  I am training you to depend on Me alone…”

I can only imagine how secure and satisfied I’d feel if I would put this much intentional effort into tracking His presence in my life; accepting His will for my every moment.  

Time for another cup of coffee and some serious thought and prayer on tracking my spiritual well-being.  Now if there were only an Excel spreadsheet for that!