Open My Eyes!

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Oh, Father, open my eyes to the beauty that fills this life! It is all around, ever-present, but I am so prone to miss it. I am seemingly surrounded with the end-of-winter browns and grays, low-hanging clouds, and chilly winds. My mind wanders to old hurts and unfulfilled dreams, then onto daily tasks, momentary disappointments. And suddenly, your goodness springs from the deep call of a red tulip! So mysterious it is, given that there is no purpose for this particular flower over any other. Your sheer delight in its every detail compels its existence.  May my soul reach for you and open to receive your grace like rain. Open my eyes and expand my soul!

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The Body of Christ

My fingertips scrape against the bread
that cringes and cracks as each solemn
soul reaches out to tear its piece.

Her shaking hand pulls the bread
with urgent need as our eyes meet and I whisper
“the body of Christ” into the air between us.

She can’t break the bread
and my hand touches hers,
offering quiet help, silent prayer.

Now, two hands on the bread,
we rip, a piece is loosed, and then
suddenly we remember.

New Blog Content

Hello!  I have been writing on this blog for just about a year now and decided last week during an extended time of solitude and reflection that it’s time to chart a new course.  I have renamed the blog “Moments of the Soul.”

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There are moments in which eyes catch and hands graze, where God reveals his majesty and grace through intricacy, and where something causes me suddenly to lose my breath.  In these “moments of the soul,” I feel most alive and most connected to God.  So, my blog will be my way of capturing, through words and images, these incredible, breath-taking moments of experiencing the presence of God.

Thanks for transitioning with me!  Look for the first post tomorrow!

Saul, David, Life of Christ, and the Holy Land

I have paused my blog writing for the month of February so I wanted to give you a quick update. I am simply taking some time to study and spend time in Scripture to learn what God is speaking to me.  I have been studying 1 Samuel, one of my favorite books of the Bible whose primary characters are the prophet Samuel, the Israelites’ first king, Saul, and David, and have learned so much in just the first 20 chapters.  Here are a few things I’ve learned or about which I’ve been reminded:

  • Sometimes God will give us what we cry out for even if it’s not in our best interest in order to demonstrate his glory and sovereignty.

  • Do not be wise in your own eyes.

  • Serve God faithfully and always consider the great things he has done for you.

  • Seek first the Lord.

  • Sin is a barrier between us and God.

  • Obedience is better than sacrifice.

  • The Lord looks not at the outside, but at the heart of a person.

The other thing I’ve been doing of late is studying the four gospels as part of a seminary course called The Gospels: Life of Christ.  To list out every detail of what has happened in my soul and mind as I’ve studied the gospels would take too long, but I can say for sure I love Jesus more and more each day.

Today I leave for a one-week trip to the Middle East and will walk in many of the places Jesus walked and touch the earth that Jesus’ body touched.  My heart is open and my mind is ready to engage in a week of learning what it means to be one who seeks peace.  I would love your prayers!

“Seek peace and pursue it.”  Psalm 34:14

All Things New — January 31, 2014 (Friday)

Today’s Verses:

Revelation 21:1-5 (NASB)

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

Today’s Questions:

Based on our study this month, list out all the things God has promised to make new.

In what ways has God changed your heart toward him or others through his Word during this All Things New study?

Today’s Prayer:

Father in heaven, maker of all things, thank you for your Word and the way you have transformed my heart as I have studied it this month. I am so thankful that your Word is alive and active, and that you are doing an unprecedented thing in my soul and in this world. I long for the day that all things are new and you again walk among us as we live in the glorious light of your presence. Help me to speed the coming of your kingdom by sharing your love, your message of hope, and your mercy and grace. Lord of all, King of kings, my life is yours. Use me for the sake of others.

New Song — January 30, 2014 (Thursday)

Today’s Verses:

Psalm 40:1-3

I waited patiently for the LORD;
he turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.

He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the LORD
and put their trust in him.

Today’s Questions:

Identify a time you cried out to God in prayer. Did you receive a response, whether in words or circumstances? How did the fact that you received a response impact your understanding of God?

When was your very first encounter with God? What changed in your life after that encounter?

What keeps you from crying out to God when you find yourself in the pit or the mud and mire?

Do you ever sing out in praise to God when you’re alone? What song do you sing?

Today’s Prayer:

Father in heaven, on the days I am flying high and feeling alive and full, please remind me of your presence and where I was when you found me. I never want to forget where I started and how you saved me and set me on a new path. I never want to forget that my own strength and choices led me away from you and to a place of desperation. Father, on the days I cannot sense your presence, reveal yourself to me in a way that gets through to me. Remind me that you hear me and I need only call out to you. I cry out to you on behalf of my family and friends who are still singing an old song and stuck in the mud. Reach out to them, turn their hearts to you, Lord! Help me to show grace and love to those who do not know you, for I was once where they are.

Go A Little Deeper:

Read Titus 3:1-8 for a reminder to show grace and love to those far from God.

New Compassions – January 29, 2014 (Wednesday)

Today’s Verses:

Lamentations 3:22-24

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”

Today’s Questions:

Think of a day or a season in your life when you thought you might be consumed by pain, hurt, stress, anger, or something else?

What promises in God’s Word can or do you claim in the times you feel like you might be consumed?

What do you think it means to wait on the Lord?

Today’s Prayer:

Oh, Father, thank you for loving me. Thank you for your mercy and compassion. I would be utterly lost without you. Some days feel so long, the bad news unending, and the clouds ever-covering. I am so thankful that every morning your compassion and mercy are new and I never have to wonder if the tank is low or whether you will run out and I will be left on my own. Father, so often I get ahead of myself, ahead of where I know you have placed me. Help me to wait for your faithful provision and serve you full-on where I am.

Go A Little Deeper:

Read Jude 1:17-21 for words about how to wait.

New Name — January 28, 2014 (Tuesday)

Today’s Verse:

Revelation 2:17

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.

Today’s Questions:

Have you ever been called names by a bully or enemy? What about by a voice deep inside of you? What names?

Does anyone in your life call you a pet name that reflects their love for you? What is the name they use?

What name, if you saw it on a white stone given to you, would make your soul soar with the sense of being known and loved?

Today’s Prayer:

Father in heaven, I am a child who longs to climb upon your lap to feel your arms wrapped around me and to hear your words of love. Sometimes I believe my name is ashamed, embarrassed, sin-filled, worthless, unloved, alone, or afraid. But I know you see something so different, Lord. You see all of me, and yet nothing could keep you from calling me created, chosen, known, beloved, daughter, forgiven and redeemed. Thank you for seeing me for what I am becoming, what you made me to be, and who I am in Christ. Help me to act consistent with my new self in Christ instead of the old self whose security was in things that pass away.

Go A Little Deeper:

Read Psalm 139 to understand the care with which God made you.

New Name — January 27, 2014 (Monday)

Today’s Verses:

Isaiah 62:1-3

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,
for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet,
till her vindication shines out like the dawn,
her salvation like a blazing torch.

The nations will see your vindication,
and all kings your glory;
you will be called by a new name
that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.

You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD’s hand,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

The words in this passage are Isaiah’s, a prophet speaking to the people of Judah and Jerusalem between 740 and 680 B.C. Most scholars believe that Zion and Jerusalem refer to the church formed after the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Today’s Questions:

Have you lived through a period in your life that you might describe as “desolate and deserted?” What was your relationship with God like during that time?

What words do people in our culture most associate with the church today?

What do you believe the church could characterize or represent in our culture?

Usually, we know a crown is made for the head of a king. What do you make of Isaiah’s statement that the Israelites would be “a crown of splendor in the LORD’s hand?”

Today’s Prayer:

Father in heaven, thank you for the privilege of being part of your church, the collection of people you hold in your hand like a prized possession. Thank you for the restoration, healing, and light only you can bring to my desolation, broken soul, and dark desires. I wait in anticipation of the day you come again and pray that you find your church standing firm in faith, steadfast in hope, and unyielding in love. Guide my steps for the remainder of my life so that I carry the character and nature you long for your church to embody.

Go A Little Deeper:

Read Matthew 16:18 for Jesus’ promise about the church.