Monday, August 19, 2013

New Beginnings

"The Lord ' s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22,23

Today is the first day of the school year for many. I have so enjoyed seeing all the "Back To School" poses pictured online this morning. You can sense the freshness in each one . . . . neatly cut, perfectly arranged hair . . . . unscuffed shoes, not quite broken in yet . . . . newly purchased school clothes, carefully tucked and smoothed . . . . that perfect backpack, long-deliberated-over and finally chosen, bursting at the seams with beckoning, blank notebook pages, unbroken crayons, and  shiny yellow pencils, sharpened and ready for action.
But most of all I have loved seeing the bright smiles and sparkling eyes of the children, their eager faces revealing the hopeful expectation of good things to come . . . . the fresh promise of  finding new friendships,  gaining new understanding, and exploring new ideas. Everything feels . . . . well . . . . new!  On this first day of school there are no thoughts of bad grades, lost homework, tardy slips, playground bullies, or rainy day recesses . . . . only the excitement of starting  all over again.

I have always relished the feeling of fresh beginnings.  Maybe it's because I was a teacher for all those years . . . . or maybe it's because I've fallen flat on my face so many times . . . . perhaps it is merely because I am hardwired as the eternal optimist . . . .  but I always savor the idea of starting over again. I'm a sucker for Monday mornings and New Year's resolutions.  I revel in the first blooms of springtime and the smell of newborn babies, fresh from Heaven. 
There's something exhilarating about leaving the staleness of yesterday behind . . . . pulling up that anchor that would have me remain in the past . . . . detecting the subtle stirring of the breeze . . . . raising my sail to full mast . . . . setting my sites on a new horizon . . . . and giving myself over to the will of the Maker of land and sea and wind and all things . . . .letting the wind of His Spirit launch me where He wills. 

"For in Him we live and move and have our being."  
Acts 17:28

I've been pondering that verse a lot lately.  In Him . . . . in Him . . . . in Him . . . .  that phrase repeats itself again and again in my spirit. What does it mean to be in Him? The Bible says this of  us who believe: 
"For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God." 
Col 3:3
"Therefore if any man [be] in Christ, [he is] a new creature:
 old things are passed away;
behold, all things are become new." 
2 Cor 5:17
Our modern day culture focuses a lot on doing, but not so much on just being . . . . on gaining recognition and position and possessions, but not so much on losing our life in the One who IS our very life . . . . on insisting on our own way, and not so much on relinquishing control to Him who IS the Way. 
What if we were to allow every day to be like the first day of school . . . . filled with anticipation of everything good . . . .  overflowing with His new mercies and grace . . . . joyful hearts trusting as a child does that it's going to be just wonderful?  What if we were to let go of our own stubborn wills and allow Him to take us where He pleases and continually pour out our lives to the world around us?  What if we were to fully realize all that it means to "live and move and have our being" . . . . our very being . . . . in Him? 
Poppa, help us to really know and experience the depths of this mysterious but wonderful life hid in Christ that You have promised us.  Thank You for the hope of eternal life and for making all things new. Thank you for enrolling us in your school of the Spirit, where each day is richer than the day before. 


Thursday, August 8, 2013


“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Yesterday was one of those tough days . . . . you know the ones I'm talking about.  I felt overwhelmed and weak and wavering and overcome by unseen enemies. How did I handle it? I asked several close friends for prayer . . . . I crawled up in "Poppa's Lap" . . . . and cried . . . . and worshipped . . . . and cried . . . . and worshipped . . . . and let His great Love comfort me and settle my troubled heart. Sometimes you've just got to be His little child and trust others to stand guard over you while you rest and recover. How beautiful is the Body of Christ . . . . and how vast is His love for us. 

This morning I awoke bathed in His new mercies, with my much-needed cup of grace filled to overflowing. Since then I have been savoring  God's promises . . . . feeding my spirit with strength-giving nourishment, enabling it to once again take charge of my fickle emotions and line them up with God's Word.

Battles come so unexpectedly in this life! One moment we are walking in the joy of His favor and blessing, enjoying Him and all He has given . . . . then . . . . out of nowhere . . . . a storm of Biblical proportions looms overhead, blocking our vision, impeding our movement, threatening to knock us down and blow us completely away. 
What then are we to do in these inevitable, unavoidable battles?
Knowing that our Champion has already defeated every foe once and for all . . . . realizing that we can't follow in His footsteps without meeting some of those foes along the way so that we may learn to enforce His victory on the earth . . . . believing that He has already given us ALL we need to overcome in the situations that He, in His sovereignty, is allowing us to face. . . . All these things keep us moving firmly forward through the tough times . . . . through the bad reports . . . . through the long, dark nights . . . . through the stormy seasons . . . . without doubting His goodness or wavering in our faith, even if we are still sometimes trembling in our boots.  
Then . . . . reminding ourselves that we are fully clothed in Him . . . . knowing that it is impossible for Him to fail . . . . we force our gaze away from the circumstances, focus our attention on His throne, and attune our ears to hear the battle plan.  We hold up the shield of faith and the sword of the spirit and we stand  . . . . and we stand . . . . and then we stand some more . . . . and we face down our enemy in the strength of our LORD Jesus Christ . . . . Captain of the Hosts . . . . Mighty Warrior King . . . . and we know that in Him we are more than conquerors . . . .
and Poppa smiles . . . .
and the enemy loses . . . . again . . . .and again . . . . and again . . . .

and Poppa laughs! (Ps 2:4)

"And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb
and because of the word of their testimony,
and they did not love their life even when faced with death."
Revelation 12:11